Dear Christian Apologists: Stop Whining About the Gospels Being Treated Unfairly by Historians

2806. Crocodile Tears - Word Play by Cryptid-Creations on DeviantArt

My god, Christian apologists are big whiners. They cry crocodile tears over the “terrible, mean” discriminatory manner in which professional historians evaluate the historical reliability of the Gospels. I am so sick of hearing it. There is no discrimination, Christians! Professional historians do not accept as historical fact ANY supernatural claims. Period. Get over it.

Check out my comments on this topic on the blog of conservative Christian theologian and apologist, Joel Edmund Anderson: here.

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End of post.

228 thoughts on “Dear Christian Apologists: Stop Whining About the Gospels Being Treated Unfairly by Historians

  1. Hey, Gary! I’m glad I found your blog. Apologists are all about whining, aren’t they? Really that’s what Christian apologetics is, in a way: whining about inconvenient facts that don’t fit ones chosen narrative (whilst simultaneously trying to sound all scholarly and stuff). Just remember, “A whine is just a scream, coming through a very small hole.” 😉

    Anyhoo… I’m glad to have met another refugee from the LCMS. And I’ve sincerely enjoyed reading your earlier postings about the spiritual journey you’ve been on; as a former seminarian at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, I can very much identify. Also, like you, I very much appreciate Bart Ehrman.

    Best wishes and warm regards.

    Harris

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haha…Gary, the very fact you continual characterize me as a “theologian” and “apologist” is why no one should take you seriously. If you can’t even accurately describe whom you’re talking to, why should anyone listen to you?

    I’m not a theologian or apologist. I am a Biblical Studies professor. My specialty is in the academic field of Biblical Studies.

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    1. Sorry for the insult, Professor. How would you differentiate your expertise in the Bible from that of a NT scholar and a theologian? Please enlighten me.

      Since you are not a theologian, I will tell a theologian joke: “Theology … is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there.”

      FYI: Anyone who argues in favor of the teachings of Christianity with such passion and ferocity as you do is most definitely an apologist. If you were strictly a professor of one branch of religion, you wouldn’t care what I or anyone else thinks about Christianity. You do care. You care very much. You are an evangelist, which is just another word for apologist.

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      1. I don’t care what you think about Christianity. That’s your choice and opinion. I do care when you mischaracterize Biblical Studies and Biblical scholarship.

        And no, I am neither an “Evangelist” or “Apologist.”

        But go ahead, and keep up with your delusion! lol

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            1. Seriously Mr. Anderson? The dots are not hard to connect in your discourse with Gary.

              The Apostle Peter has traditionally been attributed to authoring this Epistle—although modern scholarship argue a Galilean fisherman would not have had such an good handle on the Greek language—but nonetheless, you tell us… what was Peter’s point or his scribe’s/interpreter’s point? Feel free to elaborate.

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              1. By saying I’m an “Evangelist,” Gary is implying I’m some sort of preacher who goes out on trying to save souls.
                By saying I’m an “Apologist,” Gary is implying my entire mission is to “defend” Christianity from the onslaught of Atheism.

                I’m neither of those. Biblical Studies is area of interest and my life’s work–I study it and write about it because I love it.

                The Catholic monk Thomas Merton once said, “A man of sincerity is less interested in defending the truth than in stating it clearly, for he thinks that if the truth can be clearly seen, it can very well take care of itself.”

                I don’t have some sort of panicked need to “save souls from hell” or “defend Christianity.” Of course, I can give answers about Christianity and Biblical Studies to anyone who asks, but I’m not going out shoving my faith into people’s faces. You, Gary, and everyone is responsible and accountable for your own choices and beliefs. I’m respecting you and your stances by not feeling the need to “convert” you. That’s not my job. My job is to state the truth–about Christianity and about Biblical Studies–clearly. It’s up to you what you want to do with it.

                By contrast, Gary is actually the “evangelist” and “apologist” here…for atheism.

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                1. Apologist definition: A person who argues to defend or justify some policy or institution

                  Hmmm. Nothing there about defending Christianity against the onslaught of atheism. So, it would seem to me as a casual observer that you could be considered an apologist since it would seem natural that as a student of the bible, you might have occasion to defend what you consider “the word” to say.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Nan,
                    Okay, then we can just call everyone who makes an argument about anything ever an “apologist.”

                    I don’t think Gary is using it in that general of a sense. He often uses the term as a pejorative that denotes something like, “Oh look at that APOLOGIST! Just a mindless, indoctrinated Fundie who is afraid of hell and who is so insecure of his beliefs, he has to go around and torment reasonable atheists like me!”

                    I’ve chatted with him for the better part of two years, and just roll my eyes when he pulls out that “apologist” card.

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                2. Hmmm, that’s a dodgy sort of answer. I’m afraid it is a bit of a disingenuous answer Mr. Anderson. Why on Earth would you turn away from sharing your story/life to anyone, at anytime so that your Holy Spirit can work thru you and as 1 Peter 3:15 urges you and all Christians to do!?

                  (see my reply to Gary above/below regarding Proverbs 11:30; Luke 19:10; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Romans 1:16; Matthew 25:14; and Luke 19:11-27)

                  This skirting answer is one of several reasons I left the superficial Fellowship, ministry, and missions of 11-plus years. And aside from the fact that the Greco-Roman canonical New Testament is littered with errors, inaccuracies and ambiguity, problematic continuity, and convoluted by Roman/Hellenistic Church Fathers, theologians, archbishops, etc, NOT Homeland-concentrated Mishnaic-Hebrew Jewish Rabbis as was Yeshua… the disarray the Christian faith and churches are currently in made it an easy exit from antiquated mythology and folklore to mental, emotional, and spiritual liberation!

                  But geeezzz, is it any wonder why the Christian faith, numbers, and churches are rapidly losing followers? I mean true adamant followers, Scripturally intelligent followers, not robots who try to mimic their church staff or ministers. There are very, VERY few Believers who actually KNOW their Scriptures, marginally or sufficiently, or its correct contextual exegesis. Way too many leave that to their church ministers and church staff—a massive, lazy, critical mistake!

                  Nonetheless, thank you for answering Gary’s question. You’ve demonstrated (for now) why Islam will soon overtake Christianity. :/

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                  1. Who said I’d shy away from sharing my story with people? I’m just not going to go around and obnoxiously shove it in people’s faces and tell them if they don’t believe me they’re going to burn in hell.

                    I’ve seen your comments before that seek to make some sort of huge divide between the NT written in Greek and 1st century Judaism in Judea–You are drastically overstating the case.

                    But yes, a lot of Christians don’t really know anything about the Bible and they haven’t thought through their faith. That is a shame.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I’ll agree with your last half of the comment Mr. Anderson. 🙂

                      And there are many ways, approaches to non-Believers Mr. Anderson, none of which need at all to be “obnoxious” shoving in the face! Why so many Christians do that is utterly BEYOND ME!!! They demonstrate none of Christ’s (of the Hellenistic Gospels) approach, or to say modern secularists. Honestly, it is just respectful etiquette and common courtesy. But when quickly broach that Christ-loving, Christ-patient stoicism, that’s when they rear their ugly heads and show their FAITH is actually quite weak, quite shallow.

                      If all Christians truly lived like Yeshua bar Yosef lived—as far as we can determine with the exhaustive evidence/sources—they should all be non-violently, non-aggressively put either in prison OR assaulted OR executed… just like all the other disciples and even the Herodian Paul/Saul!!! Because that is what as a whole their Greco-Roman canonical New Testament teaches. It appears you want to avoid that Mr. Anderson. 😉

                      Best regards to you Mr. Anderson. Be well and most of all safe in this pandemic that America wants to keep going and fuel. 😄

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                3. @Joel
                  . My job is to state the truth–about Christianity and about Biblical Studies–clearly. It’s up to you what you want to do with it.

                  Your ” job” is to state the ”truth”? Is it really? And on whose authority did you don that particular mantle?
                  The truth is you are nothing but an arrogant prick and most of what you about this particular topic are lies.
                  That is the truth.

                  Your job – paid employment – is teaching a specific Christian version of bible studies.

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                    1. @ Joel
                      Now who can’t shut up and give it a rest?
                      I don’t recall saying I was going to.

                      So, on whose authoirty are you ‘preaching’ this ‘truth’ , you didn’t say?

                      At least you didn’t deny the charge of being a liar.
                      Tacit, or subconcious honesty/admission of guilt for a change, perhaps, Joel?

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                    2. Excellent! Should we now call you Doctor Pinocchio?
                      And you are still here, I note?
                      You do realise that your incessant whining, and ”me, me, me”, behaviour are classic signs of a narcissistic personality?

                      Isn’t it finally about time you called our bluff and actually produced some evidence for your spurious claims of historical reliability?

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                    3. No, that’s okay. I get a notification when you comment.

                      It is just pretty infantile of you. You need to get a life. Bye.

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                    4. Smile I have an excellent life, thank you.
                      Wife, children, good business lovely home. and absolutrly no need whatsoever to worry about idiotic religious/god claims from liars such as you, who has a co-dependant existence with a man-made deity.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. I always follow Gary’s blog, and have been for years. And now you’ve turned up it is even more fun.
                      You make it so easy to expose lies and stupidity.
                      That you continue to engage with these ”asinine” comments dimishes your intellectual credibility with every keystroke.
                      Highlighted even mnore so by the fact that on your own blog the only regular supporter you have is the fawning coattail riding Lee. Although in his defense, he at least comes across as genuinely indoctrinated.
                      You are merely a professional who lies.

                      Sad?
                      I consider it hilarious.

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                    6. Good to see that you acknowledge your comments to be “asinine.” But yes, I will acknowledge that engaging with you certainly is diminishing.

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                    7. Oh dear. You must have missed that I was merely quoting you?
                      I would have thought your more immediate concern to be trying to refute the fact you are a liar.
                      Come on now Joelly. At least make an effort, for your god’s sake.
                      Here you go … I’ll throw you a bone.
                      How about you adjust your evidently erroneous claim slightly?
                      How’s this …
                      ”The gospels were written in part to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth and although concrete evidence is lacking Christians believe that they are, in part, historically reliable.”

                      I can live with this. How about you?
                      How far are you willing to bend to regain a measure of integrity and intellectual honesty?

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                    8. @ Dr. Joel
                      …that views the Bible as nothing more than a list of facts that need to be meticulously proven or disproven at every turn.

                      This comment I simply had to repost as it is hilarious.
                      One does not need to prove a fact as if it is a fact it has already been proven.

                      It is claims that need to be proven – with verifiable evidence – before they are regarded as facts.
                      And if you haven’t figured it out yet, within the context of this topic nothing you have asserted here, or on your blog, meets this criteria.
                      And I am reasonably confirdent that this is a fact.

                      Here’s an excellent article written by an associate professor of biblical studies on the subject of hisrorical reliability.
                      I recommend you have a read and take to heart what she writes.

                      https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/bible-basics/does-the-bible-relate-to-history-as-it-actually-happened

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      2. Gary, I find that 99% of Christians, theologians, Apologists, or whatever they imagine to call themselves know very very little about their own 4th century Canonical New Testament or the TRUE historical context in which Yeshua bar Yosef was born, lived, tried to reform, and died. They just regurgitate what they’ve been told and (in blind faith) accept hook, line, and sinker. 😞🤦‍♂️

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      3. Gary, below I managed to compel Mr. Anderson to give an answer to your question. His answer is sort of adequate if we don’t care one iota about semantics, much less what his Old and New Testament together teaches Believers. For example:

        • Proverbs 11:30
        • Luke 19:10
        • Mark 16:15-16
        • 1 Corinthians 9:22
        • Romans 1:16

        There are many more about ALL Christ-followers going out to harvest lost souls, but I guess most Christians today do not want to be “Christ-like” and follow Him, or Paul-like, huh? They’d rather be labeled a desk-clerk that never leaves their protected building or goes out among the (dangerous) world because they are merely a “Biblical Studies & Scholarship” connoisseur exempt from Matthew 25:14 and Luke 19:11-27… the Parable of the Minas. Obviously, Mr. Anderson would prefer to BURY his Christ-given, God-given “gifts” rather than perfect them, strengthen them, all in demonstrable FAITH in his Christ. 😉

        But Gary, I’m quite sure he—like millions of other “Christians™”—will play the popular game of Whack-A-Mole or Move the Goal-posts in finding other excuses, explanations, bible verses to counter these above bible verses I’ve given. Or they’ll attack ME in some way saying I’m Satan’s tricky pawn using Scripture to fool them, dissuade them of their weak, shallow faith and Scriptural meatiness (vs milk). 😄 This type of dodging and skirting is rampant among supposed Scripturally-sound Christians. 🙄

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            1. Taboo,
              You and Gary can’t have it both ways. You can’t go on endless rants about how Christian “evangelists” and “apologists” just want to shove their indoctrinated beliefs down everyone’s throat, and then, when a Christian who knows what he’s talking about tells you that he isn’t looking to shove his faith down your throat, you turn an criticize him for being some kind of shallow follower who doesn’t REALLY want to follow Christ.

              That is utterly absurd and disingenuous. It’s like you’ve made your own definition of Christian (i.e. “An obnoxious, indoctrinated fundie who tells atheists they’re going to burn in hell”) and use that as your strawman for all Christians. Then you meet one who isn’t that way, and you criticize him for not being a true Christian? Really?

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              1. Mr. Anderson, I simply know inside and out your 4th-century Greco-Roman canonical New Testament. That ONE source—not yours, not my seminary’s, not Billy Graham, not R.C. Sproul’s, etc, etc, ad infinitum of simple men, Homo sapiens—of your faith’s, your religion’s ONLY tangible source for “Abrahamic truth.” What ALL Christians should learn inside and out.

                General Revelation from a Supreme Deity doesn’t cut it; too broad, too ambiguous, too easy to debunk. Special Revelation, however, for us 21st century people is a bit more precise—if an outsider, a neutral spectator totally ignores how many different Christian denominations there are branching off of the original 6 or 8—to learn, to absorb so to speak what a Greek Christ supposedly preached orally and how over the following 2-3 centuries His followers interpreted His oral teachings then added onto. But remarkably His deep seeded Jewishness was totally amputated, lost! But never mind any of that non-sense, right? 😉 Lol

                What I’m telling you Mr. Anderson, in the simplest way I know how for you… is that your Scriptures, your canonical 4th-century Greco-Roman New Testament (excluding many many other very relevant manuscripts, most Jewish) is the ONLY SOURCE anyone ever needs to reference. That’s it. Done. Period. And for 11-years and an additional 30-years of expanded study of that New (and Old) Testament is all I’ve done, including here.

                So you aren’t critiquing me. You are critiquing your own New Testament Mr. Anderson. 🙂

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                1. What does that first paragraph mean? You mean just the NT in Greek?

                  No clue what your second paragraph is saying. From what I can gather, you are just wrong.

                  Third paragraph–Still don’t get what you are saying.

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                  1. Your elementary education and experience in Biblical Studies & Academia Mr. Anderson—or perhaps because it was way too limited, too tunnel-visioned?—is showing badly. And if one were to also place those Christian Biblical Studies & Academia inside its required FULL historical context, namely its Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and the Mishnaic Hebrew & Syro-Aramaic… THEN you’d understand what I have written AND what I imply, a reading between the lines.

                    It’s probably best we not waste anymore of our time. If you don’t understand at least a little bit of what I reference, then our time is wasted, at least for me. Perhaps if I go peruse your blog, see what sort of a BROAD background and education you possess that will change my mind. 🙄 Otherwise, best wishes to you. 🙂

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                    1. Haha Taboo…Okay.
                      Keep telling yourself that. If you can’t state clearly what you mean, I’m going to say you’re full of crap. I’ve read your comments on the past on this issue and have just rolled my eyes.

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                    2. A whole lotta eye rolling going on, right? On your comments as well. But that achieves nothing but a lot of Marty Feldmans. 😆 I’m going to try one last time to at least get you thinking in the right direction, if for nothing else other than YOU understanding (to a degree) what I’ve said to you that’s making your eyes look like Mary Feldman. 😉

                      Question #1 — Was Jesus—the son of Joseph and Mary—a Jew and born into and educated thoroughly in Judaism?

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                    3. Very good. 😉

                      Question #2 — What various Jewish Sects/Groups, descended from the Hasmonean Dynasty, inhabited the 1st-century Levant of Late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and which sparked/led to so much tension and unrest with Rome from 6 CE or certainly 19 CE until 74 CE (Masada) on into 135 CE? How many of these known verified Jewish sects could Yeshua’s teachings and reforms align with or match? And believe me, there’s more than one Mr. Anderson.

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                    4. I teach this stuff, Taboo. Lol

                      Sadducees, Pharisees, various Zealot movements, the Qumran community were the big four. And in thr middle of that, there was the messianic Jesus movement that eventually became known as Christianity. Of those 5 groups, the only two that survived AD 70 and the Bar Kochba Revolt in AD 132-135 were the Pharisees, who became the basis for rabbinic Judaism, and the Jesus movement, which became Christianity.

                      Next?

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                    5. Hahaha…okay. David Koresh of the Branch Davidians taught Biblical history and studies too. Did that make him an expert?

                      You’ve brushed-over broadly like 99% of Christian teachers, preachers, scholars-Apologists do about Late Second Temple Sectarian Judaism. You’ve named only two, maybe (ambiguously) three Sects. There’s several more Mr. Anderson. Try again, and you will need to go to other sources OTHER THAN your Greco-Roman sources. This reply is way, way too oversimplified. Dig deeper then come back with an exhaustive list. 🙂

                      If you do not wish to do the legwork/homework, then just say you don’t. We can drop this and get off the Hamster-wheel. 😉

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                    6. Being that you haven’t said anything of substance, yes, it is probably smart of you to stop.

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                2. Your other comment about how all followers of Yeshua should be put in prison, assaulted or executed….I couldn’t directly comment on it.

                  Here’s my comment: “Huh?”

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                    1. Whose blog is no longer available on WordPress?

                      And are you suggesting that Jews in 1st century Judea were so detached from the surrounding Greek culture that had saturated the region for the previous 300+ years, that there was absolutely no interaction between the two? Are you suggesting that hardly any Jews used the Septuagint, despite the fact that the vast majority of Jews of the first century knew Greek more than Hebrew?

                      Come on, try to speak clearly about what you’re saying, or I’m going to call BS on you.

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                    2. Whose blog is no longer available on WordPress?

                      Yours. Your name here links only to “resurrectingorthodoxy.wordpress.com is no longer available. The authors have deleted this site.” per WordPress verbatim.

                      And are you suggesting that Jews in 1st century Judea were so detached from the surrounding Greek culture that had saturated the region for the previous 300+ years, that there was absolutely no interaction between the two?

                      No. But surely you know from all your “studies” a simple no does not at all elaborate on 1) WHY 1st-century Jerusalem, Syro-Palestina, Nabataea (the Levant) and Homeland Judaism was in severe unrest, rebellion with Rome, and more importantly why they were sectarian amongst themselves, and 2) all the causes for Rome’s legions to sack Jerusalem, destroy the Temple, and hunt down all Jewish dissenters/rebels to Masada in 70 CE then 73-74 CE respectively. All of this and much more was the context of what Yeshua bar Yosef was born into and inherited.

                      Are you suggesting that hardly any Jews used the Septuagint?

                      No. Don’t let your imagination go too wild Mr. Anderson. 😉 However, most Jewish scholars/Rabbis will tell you that Homeland Jews of the 1st-century knew Greek to get by or merely for business-trading reasons. But they will be quick to tell you that they spoke first and foremost Syro-Aramaic fluently. Their second tongue was what is called today DSS Hebrew or Dead Sea Scrolls Hebrew along with Tannaitic-Mishnaic Hebrew.

                      …despite the fact that the vast majority of Jews of the first century knew Greek more than Hebrew?

                      This is wrong according to most Secular and Jewish scholars. However, if you’d like to give 4-5 sources backing this (erroneous) claim, please do list them. Do not bother with any biased Greco-Roman Christianized sources. 🙂

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                    3. joeledmundanderson.com

                      Yes, there were many zealot revolutionary movements in the first century, the major one coming with the Jewish War of 66-70, which ended with Rome destroying Jerusalem and the Temple.

                      Judea at that time had been heavily Hellenized for 300 years. It is foolish to think Greek was not well known and used as well. If it wasn’t, there would have been no need for the LXX.

                      Are you saying that the NT and subsequent early Christianity had NOTHING to do with Jesus himself?

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                    4. Judea at that time had been heavily Hellenized for 300 years.

                      But nowhere near as much as Alexandria, Asia Minor, Hellas, Macedonia, and to the Italian Peninsula. Syro-Palestina Jews, Homeland Jews resisted Hellenization significantly more than the rest of Overseas Jews (Diaspora). Starting with the Maccabean Revolt, then the Hasmonean Dynasty, again conquered by Pompey later, then exacerbated by the Herodian Dynasty, Jews in Judea had developed a very deep-seeded animosity toward Greco-Rome. This is undeniable both in Jewish history and Secular history. Therefore, I believe you are trying to unnecessarily exaggerate an “accepted welcomed” Hellenism in Syro-Palestina by the 1st-century. I and many Jewish and Secular scholars of Antiquity and the Classical Era would assure you that was NOT the case. Perhaps you are trying to anachronistically and partially push a Christian Roman history and apology? If so, extrinsically that would be inaccurate history.

                      It is foolish to think Greek was not well known and used as well.

                      Again, I am not saying that. Reread my previous reply-comment to your presumption.

                      If it wasn’t, there would have been no need for the LXX.

                      Ahh, again your limited, tunnel-visioned(?) Biblical history is showing. 😉 The LXX was primarily for Greek-speaking ONLY people, which eventually turned out to be Gentiles, not Jews; Hellenized Gentiles, not the common Syro-Aramaic and DSS Hebrew along with Tannaitic-Mishnaic Hebrew. Those previous decades and centuries made Homeland Jews WANT to speak only their native tongues regarding Hellenism’s invasiveness into their culture and Temple, and certainly not the language of Rome.

                      And since you brought up the LXX/Septuagint we are actually talking about the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, the Masoretic Texts, so it is smart and fair to also INCLUDE not just the LXX/Septuagint, but just as importantly if not more, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as Tannaic manuscripts. All help anyone in fully understanding the Hebrew Bible, Jesus’/Yeshua’s texts he learned from. Here is one great place for you to start your needed expanded “Biblical Studies” Mr. Anderson:

                      http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13432-septuagint#anchor3

                      Another great starting point to put all of this in accurate, proper historical context—which most all Christian seminaries or churches intentionally ignore—could be Lawrence H. Schiffman’s Understanding Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism (2003) Ktav Publishing House. Or if you’d prefer a free basic starting point, go to this webpage. Since I’m not sure what Gary’s spam/bot settings are for multiple weblinks, I’ll put the link into the following comment-reply.

                      Are you saying that the NT and subsequent early Christianity had NOTHING to do with Jesus himself?

                      Hahaha…no. You sure do like to go rambuctiously BIG with your presumptive sensationalized questions! Have you worked for FOX News before? 😉

                      I will most definitely say this about your 4th-century canonical NT and subsequent unanimously Greco-Roman Early Christianity is a LOT FURTHER AWAY from Jesus’/Yeshua’s actual Sectarian Judaism/Messianism of the 1st-century. This can be compellingly shown thru an exhaustive, EQUITABLE study of not just Hellenized Christian sources, e.g. all the Greco-Roman Church Fathers from start to finish, but Jewish and Secular sources, some early non-canonical Judeo-Christian sources. In other words Mr. Anderson, when a neutral examines ALL the relevant historical sources, not just Christian ones, Yeshua’s true identity and purpose comes out differently, in some cases QUITE differently than your 4th-century Roman/Greek canonical sources and NT.

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                    5. For my above further resources for Mr. Anderson…

                      CHALLENGE AND TRANSFORMATION: SECOND TEMPLE AND RABBINIC JUDAISM…

                      http://www.myjli.com/debates/index.php/lesson-1/challenge-and-transformation-second-temple-and-rabbinic-judaism/

                      Then their six lessons at the top of the page is further learning about Yeshua’s/Jesus’ actual authentic context and background. Remarkably, all of this is sorely absent from Christian sermons and curriculums about their Greek “Christ,” but it isn’t surprising why they avoid it, hide it, and distort it. 😉

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                    6. Wow so much to respond to. I will just focus on the last comment.

                      The NT texts are 1st century documents. They are not 4th century inventions. They are 1st century documents written by members of the early Jesus movement that, at that time, still had very close ties to 1st century Judaism. They were written in Greek because that was the common lanuage at the time.

                      If your argument is that the NT canon doesnt reflect rabbinic Judaism, therefore Jesus as portrayed in the NT is a fiction, that is silly.

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                    7. The NT texts are 1st century documents. They are not 4th century inventions.

                      Well Mr. Anderson, now we are no longer discussing the entire exhaustive data, evidence, and manuscripts—i.e. all non-Christian sources available—to verify and plausibly piece together Yeshua’s FULL historical context within Late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism. Your tunnel-visioned education, indoctrination, and “Biblical Studies” are blinding you from many other relevant sources OTHER THAN your Greco-Roman Christian sources. Your above fallacious two sentences show that you do not understand the definition of “Canonical.” What methods makeup a canonical process; a process that took place over 300-years, overseen by Greco-Roman Church Fathers that favored one particular theology & politics over others. See my below Table to help you grasp your authentic Church history:

                      Notice the dates? And by the way, there are over fourty (40) non-canonical testimonies of “Christ” that were not put into your NT in 367 CE, or the 4th-century.

                      But I am no longer interested in dialogue with you about authentic 1st-century history of the Levant and Yeshua. I’m gathering you aren’t interested either—your mind was firmly made up when we started this. I’ve done this brief dialogue with you for any of Gary’s readers/followers, not to indulge your faulty, very limited (biased) knowledge of history. Therefore, I will not address the rest of your reply. It’s a waste of my time. As the idiom goes…

                      You CAN lead a mule to water, but not if they don’t want to take one step to do the homework/legwork required.” 😄

                      I’m going to go read your other reply to me, but I’m sure I will reach essentially the same conclusion. Should you decide to do some actual Secular work, start with my previously mentioned sources. Or go to reputable Jewish scholars/Rabbis.

                      Regards to you and stay safe in this 3rd wave of the pandemic. 🙂

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                    8. Sorry, you haven’t made a convincing argument that the Gospels do not reflect the teachings of the first century historical Jesus.

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                    9. I don’t have to Joel. There’s no way it could be done in comment threads here. But many Secular and Jewish scholars have done most of the outstanding scholarly work already. It’s up to you or anyone else to make a truly comprehensive EQUITABLE search and study.

                      My work in this area started in 1991 (always ongoing) and the warehouse of sources showing convincingly that the Greco-Roman Apotheosis version of “Christ” is not at all the authentic historical Yeshua bar Yosef. This is completely aside from the abundant errors, problems, and contradictions as well as glaringly amputated and retro-fitted modifications of 2nd & 3rd-century Church Fathers, Archbishops, etc, made to the Hellenized Gospels. But you won’t at least try to verify or confirm what the Secular and Jewish scholarship shows/proves… will you?

                      There is a well-known quote from Mark Twain that applies here:

                      <

                      blockquote>“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

                      How does it apply? Glad you asked! 😉 The truth of Twain’s two sentences applies also to Agnotology, to a person’s wholeness, or incompleteness, to their knowledge and experience in a lifetime. Twain might put it like this:

                      “Neutral inquiry/scrutiny is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable, or critical views of humans and their ideologies and institutions cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth, of a culture, of a church, mosque, or synagogue all one’s lifetime.”

                      If you really want intimate knowledge/truth of your existence and that extrinsic existence around you, you MUST go into those perceived jungles of fear and push THROUGH as Robert Frost once wrote. Not avoid, ignore, or go around. Specifically, Mr. Anderson, you need to honestly examine closely and as neutrally as possible non-Christian sources regarding ALL of Yeshua’s personal background and the full context of his heritage OUTSIDE of your Gospels. That will be the ONLY was rose-colored glasses can be removed.

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                    10. If you can’t clearly crystalize your view, it does no good. The Synoptics are first century documents. Are you suggesting that within 40-50 years, the story of Jesus of Nazareth had been completely “hellenized”? I know quite a bit about the Synoptics. I’ve translated them and I teach them. Luke is obviously addressed to a Gentile audience, but Matthew is EXTREMELY Jewish in its presentation of Jesus, and so is Mark.

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                    11. In a word Joel: wrong. Wrong on all you’ve written. Sorry. Of course you have your own personal opinions. I’ve already shared enough clear, specific content and material for any intelligent person to get started on the subject.

                      Again, I’m trying to conclude our dialogue… and courteously.

                      Best regards to you and your family. 🙂

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                    12. Anyone who is reading this thread, PLEASE go read all my previous comments on the subject. If you have ANY questions, please reply or contact me on my blog. Thank you. 🙂

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                    13. That’s all you seem to be able to say, “Nu-uh!” But then you flat out refuse to give anything of substance. I’m calling BS.

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                    14. Joel. We appear to agree that the Gospels contain some non-historical content. Our disagreement seems to be on the definition of “historically reliable”.

                      In my view, we have far more in agreement than your acrimony indicates.

                      I can’t prove that Jesus did not enter Jerusalem to a “great crowd” of cheering Jews, nor can I prove that Jesus did not appear to his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem. You cannot prove these events did occur. There is no way to know which of us is correct. Shouldn’t we just agree to disagree?

                      Some of the stories in the Gospels probably contain historical facts and some of them probably contain fictional embellishments. Can we agree on that?

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                    15. Mr. Anderson, I have to say that sometimes you behave in a most immature manner, not just here with that empty comment, but abundantly so in many of your other comment-replies here. You are simply NOT doing the required legwork to be genuinely fair about the authentic and verified history of the 1st century Levant and Second Temple Judaism/Messianism. You are lazy and by making childish remarks you only invalidate and undermine what you blabber as PERSONAL opinion, albeit unfounded opinions.

                      …then you flat out refuse to give anything of substance.

                      HAH!!! Did you get to the -minute, the 36th-minute, the 53rd-minute, the 1-hr 37th-min, and then the most critical part of Gordon’s work… Hebrew and Aramaic versus erroneous Koine Greek translations at the 1-hr 54-min mark. And only a Karaite Jew and other Jewish scholars in Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew and Syro-Aramaic would truly know and understand Yeshua’s historical context a LOT MORE ACCURATELY than you and your counterfeit Greco-Roman versions based in little to no contextual authentic Yeshua/Jesus reforms/teachings.

                      Do the required Jewish legwork/homework Joel of your Jewish Yeshua bar Yosef the Nasoraean/Nasri!!! Stop pawning bad history and misinformation. That’s the BS you should be calling. Lol

                      P.S. I hope you don’t censor my comment I left you earlier today on your blog. Hope you’ve had a nice Shabbat, but an erroneous Greco-Roman “Sabbath.” 😉

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                    16. Shimon-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew is what you’re basing all this on? Interesting document, but no proof of the 14th century text predating the Synoptics. And Gordon’s argument, though novel, isn’t really convincing.

                      It is safe to say that you built that up way too much.

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                    17. No. Did you watch/listen to the entire case Gordon presented? Did you not listen to every second leading up to at least the 53rd minute and the 1-hr, 37th minute? If you had then you’d realize your question is utterly silly. Shimon-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew is only ONE demonstration that decades late Greek translations of Yeshua’s Torah-teachings—something Saul of Tarsus had no clue about—were 3rd translations from Aramaic sources which were themselves translations from Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew of the 1st century. Your are not realizing and your Christian scholars, and post-grad professors did NOT teach you that Koine Greek is not at all like the Semetic languages of the Levant, especially from Hebrew-to-Greek! Way too many of your Greco-Roman Church Fathers cut corners, cheated, and simply used Aramaic oral stories, not Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew stories… the very language Yeshua would’ve always spoken to his Hebrew-Jewish audience!!! Gordon is merely showing in ONE instance (Matthew) the vast chasm between Hellenism and true, authentic Judaism/Messianism that was Yeshua. There are a large plethora of other non-Christian sources corroborating this.

                      Do you not see how your Greek versions are at least 3rd-hand translations (decades later!) laden with more errors? Please put your better thinking cap on. 😉

                      It is safe to say that you simply do not want to fairly examine Yeshua’s/Jesus’ true JEWISH background and Torah-teachings. You merely follow the crowd, the popular trend so perhaps you might feel better about yourself and feel more “accepted” socially in a Greco-Roman Protestant nation and part of the world? Yes?

                      Your reply here shows you likely did not listen/watch everything AND you refuse to understand the authentic, verified Jewish sources of Late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and Jesus’ Sectarian movement. You don’t even know what correct questions to ask here! 😄

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                    18. Yes, I watched all of it.
                      No, it wasn’t convincing.
                      Yes, you built that up way too much.

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                    19. No, I watched the entire thing. Sorry, you built it up way too much. EVEN IF Shimon-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew could be verified to have been written BEFORE Matthew in AD 70s, the differences Gordon pointed out hardly amount to or warrant your claim that, “Oh the Greek Jesus is totally different than the Hebrew Yeshua!” That is BEYOND a reach. Sorry. It isn’t convincing.

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                    20. Once again, for everyone/anyone following this discussion, please see all my previous replies to Mr. Anderson. I do, however, NOT recommend you follow his pathology of denial and inept lethargy. 🙂

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                    21. Professor…it isnt convincing, sorry. If there was credibility to this guy’s claims, if there was actual evidence/proof that “Hebrew Matthew” predated the Synoptics, Biblical Scholars would be all over it. It would be the biggest breakthrough in the study of the historical Jesus.

                      But this isn’t even a blip in Biblical Studies. That should tell you something. Again, sorry….not convincing in the least.

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                    22. I am going to summon a bit more patience and understanding with you Mr. Anderson and TRY a bit harder to help you see outside of your closed bubble-circle of strictly XXXXX . I would like for you to bear with me a minute while I ask you some direct questions please. Okay?

                      First, you are an Adjunct Instructor at the University of North Alabama in Florence, a very small campus and enrollment of approx. 5k – 5.5k, is that correct?

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                    23. When any of your students persistently ask you questions, silly ones or irrelevant ones, or do not ask any questions, but only distort the subject, or reinterpret, or interpolate so much what you’ve said or NOT said to the point they become the Instructor and you the student… do you stop teaching them, informing them, giving them hints of how to learn? Do you simply give them all the answers, all the various paths of self-reasoning, self-learning (not memorizing! not regurgitating others-plagiarism!) the content of course? In other words Joel, do you just do all the homework/legwork for them, all the thinking for them and then give them an “A” Magna Cum Laude because they merely echo YOUR work/answers!? Is that how you teach?

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                    24. Lol…no…
                      So, what is your evidenc that Shem-Tov’s Hebrew Matthew pre-dates the Synoptic Gospels?

                      (i.e. When someone asks you a direct question, do you always obsfucate?) Lol…

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                    25. The Gospels are historically reliable. They convey history in a story format. How many times do you need me to say that?

                      Example: They all convey that Jesus healed people, rose from the dead, etc. Each Gospel shapes and crafts those accounts differently in order to help emphasize different theological points.

                      Did Jesus cast out demons from ONE man of the tombs (i.e. in Mark) or TWO men (i.e. in Matthew)? We don’t know, but that detail is irrelevent. Both claim he Gospels claim he cast out demons.

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                    26. Excellent!

                      So, the stories in the Gospels aren’t necessarily historical but they convey the general picture of Jesus and his ministry. Some stories of Jesus’ healings may be historical, and some may be non-historical. What matters is the fact that the Gospels convey the truth that Jesus had a reputation as a miracle worker.

                      Jesus may have appeared to his disciples in an upper room in Jerusalem, on the shores of the Sea of Tiberius, and/or on a mountain top in Galilee or maybe he didn’t. What matters is that the Gospels present the fact that some of Jesus’ followers believed he appeared to them on multiple occasions.

                      We agree!

                      I don’t understand what the big kerfluffle was all about.

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                    27. Me neither. But then, if I am called a fraud and a liar, and if you agree with me…lol…

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                    28. But just to make sure I understand your position: just because the Gospels depict Jesus as a healer and a miracle worker, which agrees with what other authors infer about him (Josephus), that does not necessarily mean that Jesus actually performed supernatural miracles and healed people by the power of his words, correct?

                      So is being “historcally reliable” mean to you that an author presents a character as he was known during his lifetime, whether that depiction was true or not is irrelevant, or is “historically reliable” when an author present true, historical facts about the character? Because if Jesus did not perform any miracles or heal anyone, the authors may be accurate in their depiction of Jesus’ reputation at the time of his ministry, but they are not presenting accurate history. Do you see what I mean?

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                    29. The Gospels make the historical claim that Jesus healed people and cast out demons. Just because they differ in some details with a particular story (i.e. the man of the tombs) those difference in details doesn’t negate the historical reliability the claims of Jesus healing people and casting out demons.

                      It means they are making the historical claim that Jesus healed people and cast out demons.

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                    30. True, but I think we need a clearer definition of what you mean by “historically reliable”.

                      I realize that you are not a fundamentalist who believes that every statement in the Gospels is an historical fact but neither do you believe that all the stories in the Gospels are fictional as would some mythicists. You believe that the Gospels accurately reflect the popular perception and reputation of Jesus during his ministry.

                      But you are not claiming that we can be confident that Jesus healed people of leprosy, for instance, just because we have stories in the Gospels that say he did, are you? That is what I (and I think, Ark) can’t quite figure out. Just because the Gospels describe Jesus’ character and deeds in a certain way does not mean that readers must accept this depiction of Jesus and the deeds ascribed to him as historical facts, correct or no?

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                    31. But why are these stories “historically reliable” about Jesus healing people? Yes, Jesus had a reputation as a healer, but so do many Pentecostals healers today. Just because a modern Pentecostal healer has a reputation for healing does that mean that we must accept as fact that he or she has healed people??

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                    32. Gary, like I’ve said before, you don’t believe Jesus healed people because you don’t believe people can be healed (i.e. no supernatural things). You’re just going in circles.

                      Yes, Jesus had a reputation of being a healer. Yes, the Gospels relate that. That does NOT mean that Jesus wasn’t a healer. It means Jesus had a reputation as a healer and the Gospels testify to the fact he was a healer. It’s up to you to find them trustworthy. I do. You don’t.

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                    33. Or more simply for you…
                      If Jesus didn’t heal people, cast out demons, and resurrect from the dead, then the Gospels, New Testament, and Christianity itself, is worthless and not true.

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                    34. @ Dr. JOel
                      Just to be perfectly clear. As there is adsolutely no evidence whatsoever for any of these claims, which means they have zero historical reliabilty, are you seriously affirming that Christianirty is ”worthless and not true”, or merely that you have found some personal integrity at last and are merely declaring you have faith in these claims?

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                    35. How do we know ANYTHING about ANYTHING in ancient history? Answer: Through written texts and testimony. Those written texts constitute evidence for most anything we know about ancient history.

                      Therefore, I deem the Gospels to be the written texts and evidence. You don’t.

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                    36. …and archaeology.
                      Oh, sorry, did you forget that one?
                      Therefore, I deem the Gospels to be the written texts and evidence. You don’t.
                      Yes, but you’ve demonstrated that you are willing to lie so why on earth should anyone take your word for anything?

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                    37. As G.E. Wright has correctly said, ‘archeology, dealing with the wreckage of antiquity, proves nothing in itself’”

                      As C.A. Coady states, ‘we cannot do without testimonial data in history.’ Archeology cannot function as a ‘high court’ in historical research, pronouncing upon the truth of the past independently of testimony.

                      • “Good scholars, honest scholars, will continue to differ about the interpretation of archeological remains simply because archeology is not a science. It is an art. And sometimes it is not even a very good art.” –Hershel Shanks

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                    38. Ah … so you are suggesting that the Noachian flood for example has archaeological evidence to support it?
                      Or even that the tale is Historically reliable?
                      Are you serious?

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                    39. I realize that you believe that these events occurred. But I don’t understand on what basis you believe that the Gospels’ claims that Jesus healed people is “historically reliable”. Are you saying that because multiple authors claim that Jesus healed people we must accept those claims as historical fact? Are you claiming that if multiple authors claim anything happened, we must accept those claims as fact, even if there is no other corroborating evidence?

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                    40. This is getting tiring.
                      They are historical biographies; they talk about a real historical person; even comments about Jesus by groups who didn’t follow him testify to his reputation as a healer; I do not think there would even be a Christianity without the resurrection.

                      Just drop it. You don’t believe he healed people because you don’t believe that people can be healed. You presuppostionally reject any “supernatural” claim. That’s fine. Everything else you put forth is a smokescreen.

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                    41. Why do you have to be rude? We were having a polite conversation then you start guessing my motivations. Do you do this with everyone in your life? It doesn’t go over well. You can get away with it with your students and with anonymous people online but don’t try it with people you desire to have a relationship with. They are not going to put up with it.

                      Bottom line: You expect historians and the public to accept as fact that Jesus performed miracles and healed people just because multiple authors say he did in their books (multiple attestation). Yet, I will bet good money that you will not hold to this same standard for claims about other “prophets” in human history. I am consistent. You are not.

                      Enough. You are too rude to conserve with. Go back to your own blog and pontificate.

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                    42. Yes, saying that this is getting tiring is “rude.” You guys regularly calling me a liar, fraud, etc. etc.–that’s proper. lol

                      Stop with the passive-aggressive crap.

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                    43. Dear Readers:

                      Do historians believe all claims written in ancient texts, even when those claims do not involve the supernatural? No! Each claim must be evaluated for its historicity. There are many claims about many famous people in ancient history. Historians don’t believe all of them. To demand that historians and the general public accept historical claims about Jesus just because multiple authors wrote stories about these alleged deeds in no way means that these events really happened. Stories develop for all sorts of reasons: flattery, legend, etc.

                      Any university professor demanding that we believe ancient claims about ancient peoples just because those claims are written in a couple of ancient texts is not thinking or teaching with a clear mind. He or she is hopelessly biased. My advice would be to take your next class in biblical studies with someone who can be more objective.

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                    44. You are doing the theological two step yet again, Joel
                      Your claim is that the gospels are historically reliable .
                      Every step throughout this thread you have avoided providing a single clear definition of this claim or a single piece of evidence when presented with examples – the virgin birth tale as an example.

                      You continue to try to make this about how Gary and I are somehow missinterpreting your meaning, labeling us as fundamentaist atheists ( for the record there are only atheists).

                      You have had dictionary definitions posted for you (By Nan), I posted a link to a piece by a bible scholar, a Professor no less, and a Christian, that blows your crap about historical reliability out the water.and yet you still insist the gospels are historically reliable.

                      Your position is untenable and indefensible.
                      I cannot find any plausible reason for your continual antics other than you have been called out and rather than acknowledge this you have decided to double-down and lie.

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                    45. @ Joel
                      From you blog
                      I could go back through all your comments (and those of a few of your friends) throughout the past years where you all have unequivocally said the Gospels are “myth” and “fairy tales” and pure “fiction.” You have been screaming “black or white” for the past couple years, because you are the one who reads like a Fundamentalist. Bravo. I’ll just grant you this, MAYBE those comments came from Arkentanen.

                      Not from me either. If anything I would have stated they are historical fiction, something I have been saying for a long while. But I have never said they were ”fairy tales” or ”myth” or ”pure fiction”.
                      Once again, you demonstrate you are nothing but a liar.

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                    46. Joel is a professional Strawman creator! He will not admit that you and I both have stated that SOME of the statements in the Gospels may be historically reliable (facts). He continues to erect the Strawman that we reject the Gospels in toto as fiction/myth.

                      The truth is, we are all in agreement! Some of the Gospel stories may be factual and others probably are not.

                      But Joel will not admit that one or all of the detailed Appearance Stories could be fictional, even though there is no way he can prove they are not. Joel is a bundle of contradictions. And why won’t Joel admit this? Answer: If it is possible that the detailed appearance stories of a walking, talking, resurrected corpse are fictional, then it is possible that all anyone saw was…a bright light…just like Paul!

                      And that would be devastating for Christian apologetics, and he knows it.

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                    47. He acknowledges the bible is historically reliable but when asked for evidence or to confirm particular episodes he flies into a petulant tantrum.

                      This is why I will no longer afford him any benefit of the doubt because of indoctrination.
                      As a professional he does know better and therefore the man is simply lying.

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                    48. I have already addressed that question with you previously. That is not the primary focus here. Do you mean obfuscate? Assuming that is actually what you mean, no. But when they are intentionally being lazy and obstinate to an exhaustive repository of sources, evidence, theories, and proofs and the equitable study of those items, as any good instructor worth their salt would do on the enormous expanse of this time-period, historical players, linguistics and cultures… I am certainly not doing THEIR legwork/homework for them! Does that makes sense to you? Comprehend what I explicitly and implicitly stated there? 😉

                      Let’s get back on track Joel. Put your thinking cap on again, okay? Since this thread has gotten overly long I will post my next reply to you as a new comment below.

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                    49. Hah. And there’s the real answer to censorship. 😄

                      If you don’t know where to look on your own blog, how to manage folders, discussions, and visitors/commenters, etc, then once again the apropos word is “Lazy.” Or…

                      You actually know exactly where my comment is located, but you are pretending to be naïve. Either way, you’ve answered the question of censorship. Lol

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        1. It is a waste of time to debate Christians. I don’t know why I still do it. It is as if we are speaking two different languages.

          Most of them, like Joel, are good, sincere people but they are so indoctrinated by this fear-based religion that they can’t see the simple truth that their cherished belief system is a cult.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. You are correct. I am an evangelist, Joel. I am an evangelist for non-supernaturalism, science, and rational thinking. I will probably never change your mind, but hopefully my comments on your blog will cause younger, less indoctrinated Christians to re-evaluate their supernatural beliefs and see them for the superstitions that they are.

              Liked by 1 person

                1. @ Joel

                  Sorry to interupt.
                  I left this comment on a previous post. Maybe you missed it?

                  OCTOBER 20, 2020 AT 11:26 AM

                  Joel Anderson:

                  And given that, along with [Craig] Evans’ argument, it is easy to conclude that they [the Gospels] are historically reliable.

                  When you say ”historically reliable”. Joel, could you narrow this down to specifics?

                  Examples: Do you consider the raising of Lazarus and Jesus walking on water to be historically reliable. If so, what is the evidence to support this?

                  Thanks.

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                  1. I mean the historical picture of Jesus and what he did is historically reliable. He had a movement, preached, challenged the Temple establishement, was crucified under Pilate.

                    Now, you dont believe he healed people or rose from the dead. Ok…but it is pretty clear he had the reputation of being a healer, and it is clear that his followers were claiming he resurrected shortly after he had been crucified.

                    But let’s be honest. The reason for you saying the Gospels arent historically reliable ISNT because of perceived differences among the Synoptic Gospels. If all of them agreed that one angel was at the tomb, you still wouldnt believe it. You reject it because you reject the possibility of the supernatural. All the talk about textual variants and differences in some details among the Gospels is a smokescreen.

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                    1. “I mean the historical picture of Jesus and what he did is historically reliable. He had a movement, preached, challenged the Temple establishment, was crucified under Pilate.”

                      I can pretty much live with this. I would still say the evidence is not that convincing but not enough to come out and state it is false.

                      And if this is your honest understanding of what the historical reliability of the gospels means then why on earth did you not simply state this upfront and include the caveat?

                      Therefore, on the basis of your amended explanation of the term Historical Reliability, which I am pretty much in agreement with, it is obvious that the gospels are, in fact, not historically reliable, and thus your somewhat sweeping statement is erroneous.

                      Surely in any discussion on this topic you should make this point clear upfront?

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                    2. “I mean the historical picture of Jesus and what he did is historically reliable. He had a movement, preached, challenged the Temple establishment, was crucified under Pilate.”

                      Bart Ehrman believes all these things about Jesus as historical so I don’t know what Joel is going on about.

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                    3. Once again you miss the point.

                      Those of us skeptics who are historicists (Ark is not) believe the basic facts about Jesus but we highly doubt the stories of him walking on water, turning water into wine, and appearing to his followers after his death are historical. Yes, part of this is because we do not believe in the supernatural. But there are other claims in the Gospels that do not involve the supernatural that we (and most historians) also doubt such as the grand procession into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, an eclipse of the sun for three hours, and a great earthquake on the day of the alleged resurrection. We don’t believe these stories because they are not corroborated by other historians. With so much fictional material present in the Gospels, it is impossible to determine what is fact and what is fictional in the detailed stories about Jesus.

                      The differences in the four Resurrection accounts do not invalidate Jesus’ existence and crucifixion. But they do indicate to most scholars that the Gospels were not written by people who had witnessed the events themselves or knew people who did. The differences also indicate how oral stories can change and be embellished before they reach different authors in different parts of the world decades later.

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                    4. Again, the Gospels do NOT say it was a “grand procession” and they dont claim a 3 hour long eclipse.

                      You are not even taking the time to understand what they actually say. You dont believe God exists. You dont believe supernatural things occur–that’s why. Nothing else. Everything else is a diversion and smokescreen. Just be honest and admit it.

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                    5. –I don’t believe that Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, cast out demons, or came back from the dead because I do not believe in the supernatural.

                      –I question the historicity of many of the detailed stories about Jesus in the Gospels because the genre of the Gospels allowed for embellishments. Did he attend a wedding in Cana? Who knows. Did overturn tables in the Temple? Who knows.

                      –I believe that Jesus existed, that he was crucified by Pilate, and shortly after his death some of his followers claimed that he appeared to them because most historians believe there is sufficient historical evidence to believe this.

                      This is the position of most educated, non-Christians in the world, including many theists. The fact that you find this position irrational demonstrates your irrationality on this subject, in my opinion.

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                2. @ Joel
                  Now, you dont believe he healed people or rose from the dead. etc etc

                  I agree 100%. But how does this in any way change what you yourself have stated can be regarded as historically reliable? The original point you made to which I agreed with.

                  This is why I fail to understand on what basis you assert historical reliability to the gospels if you have already discounted everything outside of what we both agree upon?

                  Will you at least offer some sort of explanation please?

                  Thanks.

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                  1. No, I believe Jesus healed people and rose from the dead. I believe the Gospels are historical biographies that are tellingbof real, historical people and events.

                    I dont have presuppositional bias that automatically discounts the claims of healings, miracles, Jesus’ resurrection.

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                    1. My apologies. I re-read your initial reply and I see that I misundestood. At first I thought it was ambiguous but now I realise it was simply my faulty interpretation.

                      So… you also consider the miracle claims – walking on water, water into wine, raising Lazarus etc and of course Jesus coming back from the dead to be historically reliable.

                      I would like to focus on two incidents if I may, the Virgin birth tale and the Raising of Lazarus.

                      What evidence – over and above personal belief/faith and anecdotes – can you provide that will demonstrate the historical relibility of these accounts?

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                    2. He can’t give you any. His argument will be: If the Gospels are accurate in some claims, then we should accept all their claims as accurate. The problem with this thinking is that professional historians and scholars do not apply this standard to ANY other ancient text. Joel has a double standard for the Gospels.

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                    3. I don’t have a presuppositional bias that automatically rejects claims to things like healings, miracles, resurrection. That means I am a Christian. Gary, for example, as soon as he reads a claim that Jesus healed a blind man, will says, “Oh that didn’t happen, because I know miracles don’t happen.” THAT is a subjective presuppositional bias.

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                    4. Neither do I automatically reject such claims. Any lack of acceptance is based solely and entirely on the absolute lack of evidence.
                      So once again, re the biblical claims of a virgin birth and the raising of Lazarus, do you have any evidence to present to demonstrate the historical reliability of these events?

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                    5. I submit that you DO automatically reject them.
                      I’m too busy to get into discussions right now about the virgin birth and the raising of Lazarus.

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                    6. Yet not too busy to leave an unsubstantiated, snarky comment, I notice?
                      I don’t actually mind what you think about me or my supposed bias.
                      I am skeptical off all unsubstantiated claims and as ALWAYS the onus … or I prefer … responsibility …. rests with the one making the initial claim -which in this case happens to be you.

                      I submit that you do NOT have any evidence to confirm historical reliability as if you did you would
                      a) have no need of faith and
                      b)would have presented it already.

                      But maybe I am being a tad hasty, even though most serious biblical scholars reject the notion of the Virgin Birth as being a later addition to the gospel tale – and a few other fairly well known reasons of hermeneutics.?
                      However, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for a while and wait on your evidence.holding any further ”bias” in abeyance.

                      Can you give an approximate time frame when you will be not so busy and are in a position to present the evidence?

                      Thanks.

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                    7. I was not at all referring to whethere or not the tale was ripped off from the Old Testament, but evidence that it is historically reliable. >meaning, it actiually happened.
                      Once again. do you have evidence for your claim of historical reliability?

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                    8. Please don’t be petulant and behave like an arse Joel. For goodness’ sake, we aren’t kids!
                      You have asserted historical reliability for claims that include such events as the virgin birth and the raising of Lazarus.
                      I am NOT after an argument or a back and forth involving clever semantics, I am asking for you to present evidence for the Virgin Birth and the Raising of Lazarus.
                      Now, you either have it or you don’t.
                      Which is it?

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                    9. I provide two links to two posts explaining the original context of Isaiah 7:14 and how I think Matthew uses it in his infancy narrative. THAT is what I believe regarding Matthew’s story of the virginal conception.

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                    10. Dude, how could there be any “evidence” that Mary conceived while a virgin? Come on. The first thing you have to do is figure out what Matthew is doing when he quotes Isaiah 7:14. If you are just assuming he was trying to say, “Hey! There’s this 750 year old prediction that came true!” then you’re not being a good reader of the Bible. You’re still reading like a Fundamentalist.

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                    11. The issue is: Did “Matthew” believe that his Birth Narrative was true because someone told him it was or did he invent the entire story? And if he invented one story, why not invent others, like the detailed appearance stories?

                      The fact is, we cannot know which stories in the Gospels are true and which are fictional, and THAT is why the Gospels are NOT historically reliable sources of information.

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                    12. I know the context of the Isaiah passage, thank you, and scholars who are not biased understand why the writer of gMatt used it and why the tale had nothing to do with with Jesus of Nazareth.
                      I asked for evidence to demonstrate the historical reliability of the virgin birth and you offer me an ”explanation” of 7:14?

                      But you still have the other event – the raising of Lazarus.
                      Please present the evidence you have to demonstrate its historical reliability.

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                    13. The best one can do is explain what Matthew is doing when he uses Isaiah 7:14.

                      Lazarus: Because it is an account in John. It is presented as history. And since I believe Jesus rose from the dead, I don’t think him raising Lazarus is a big jump.

                      But yes, outside of the historical claim in the Gospel of John, there is no “evidence” of that event happening. But for that matter, just about everything we know about history is based on the testimony of texts alone.

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                    14. And the ‘best” Christian explanation is neither correct nor evidence.
                      So, I’m sorry Joel.
                      Strike one for historical reliability.

                      What you personally believe is neither here nor there; neither is the claim that the Lazarus tale is ”presented as history”.
                      It is not mentioned in any other text nor can it be verified, thus this too is not historically reliable.

                      Strike 2.

                      Your final sentence smacks of nothing but a straw man – a somewhat whiny attempt to justify your unsubstantiated claim of historical reliability.

                      If I’m not mistaken, in baseball three strikes and a player is out.
                      Shall we try for a third or do you think you can provide eviudence and score a home run?
                      Suggested topics.
                      Three wise men
                      Joseph of Arimathea
                      The Tomb
                      Walking on water …

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                    15. No, Ark, there is no point arguing with you.

                      Out of curiosity, what evidence would convince you that Jesus raised Lazarus?

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                    16. Who’s arguing? Not me.

                      Ah, yes, the old ”What evidence …” line.
                      You don’t seem to understand, Joel, ( and once again I am forgoing suggesting you are disengenuous) neither what evidence actually is nor that the onus – responsibility falls to you.
                      Remember. it is YOU who is claiming historical reliability. YOU, not me, not Gary not Nan. You.

                      I agreed with your initial statement pertaining to what we can actually regard as historically reliable – though I did add a small proviso to that as well.
                      But you consider the gospels in toto to be historically reliable. Or at least this is what you have claimed here.
                      And if you want to work through each and every major event in the gospels we can test this reliabilty claim.
                      I suspect, however that you will fail miserably – probably at the very first hurdle, as demonstrated by your reluctance to test reliability regards the other options I offered. You don’t even want to have a go at the tomb? Now there’s a surprise.
                      So, what I would consider as historically reliable is not even a question as aside from your initial statment, to date you haven’t provided a damn thing that remotely meets the criteria of historical reliabilty so why bother even considering what evidence would convince me?

                      As I wrote below. Put up or Push off!

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                    17. Okay Ark, if you want to continually harp on “What’s the evidence?” but absolutely refuse to clearly state what kind of evidence you WOULD find convincing, then “disingenuous” does apply.

                      We know things about ancient history because we have written texts that tell us about things. Most of what we know comes from texts, and texts alone. We consider Roman histories to be evidence of people and events in Roman history–our knowledge of that history is based on those texts, and those texts are considered the evidence.

                      The same goes for the gospels. If you demand EXTRA evidence to “verify” the gospels, then yes, that is being disingenuous. Like I said earlier, just be honest and say, “I don’t believe Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead because I don’t think that happens.” Don’t throw up some BS about “not having enough evidence.”

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                    18. You’ll have to forgive Ark. Methinks he’s forgotten that FAITH is the key. It’s not about evidence … it’s all about what one wants to believe is true … based, of course, on the claims presented in that several thousand year old book of stories.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    19. The fact is, we cannot know which stories in the Gospels are true and which are fictional, and THAT is why the Gospels are NOT historically reliable sources of information.

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                    20. And yet Joel asserts that the gospels are historically reliable.
                      Odd that he claims – loudly it seems- that he is not a fundamentalist and yet touts this endless reliability trope.
                      Even Licona had the integrity to state that the Dead Saints and the Graves scenario in gMatt was nothing but apocalyptic imagery. Granted, he lost his job as a result but this is the price some pay for honesty I guess.

                      If Joel teaches historical reliability then I can understand why he might be inclined to
                      lie equivocate, tap dance etc using a theological word salad and insults in an attempt
                      to distract.
                      Perhaps he uses similar tactics when teaching this stuff?
                      If his students are of the indoctrinated sort, however and thus are already believers then he probably doesn’t need to, which is why he seems obliged to blather on blogs every time a request for evidence is made.

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                    21. I’ve always wondered why, when asked for evidence, believers don’t just say “There is none, BUT … for me, what has been written feeds my soul and brings contentment to my life and that’s all the proof I need.”

                      Instead, they immediately go on the defensive (a common action when a “truth” is being questioned) and start screaming invectives. It puzzles me because based on the directive that most Christians are given, they are to “win lost souls” through love.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    22. As I mentioned above, indoctrination can no longer be cited for Joel’s intrasigence and blatent ignorance, he s far too well-studied for that.
                      He has become somewhat like Eusebius – a fraud and a liar-for-Jesus.
                      We know it, and dollars to donuts he does too.

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                    23. I haven’t harped on about ”what’s the evidence”.
                      I don’t even demand extra evidence.
                      I demand the evidence that you claim exists to demonstrate the historical reliability of the gospels and not just bits as alluded to in your inital comment which I agreed with, but the gospels in toto .
                      To date you have not provided anything to demonstrate this.

                      Under the circumstsnces I can’t even consider your assertions to be a result of indoctrination any more as this would suggest a degree of blind ignorance, and I’m damn sure you have studied too much for this to be the case.

                      So what does this leave us with?
                      Charlaten?
                      Flat out lying?

                      Whatever the case, you are certainly dishonest and have little integrity and most certainly no credibility whatsoever with skeptics.

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                    24. Right Ark,
                      When someone gives up front and direct answers you dont agree with, they are a dishonest fraud.

                      You are nothing more than a dickish troll.

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                    25. And you are incapable of answering a simple question without hemming and hawing all over the place. Why don’t you just admit the truth: You believe this ancient tale because you talk to Jesus every night before you go to bed (at least you think you do)!

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                    26. No, you both want simplistic answers, and when you are given actual scholarly explanations of passages, you get snippy, call the person a fraud, and slander him with silly insults and caricatures.

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                    27. Considering your previous reply to me – ”dickish troll”( loved it, by the way) – this comment to Gary is bloody hilarious.
                      Please don’t stop Joel.
                      Such light relief is very welcome on a Friday evening.

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                    28. I would also demand simplistic answers from Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists for the historicity of the stories in their holy books. If a Hindu tells me that the Buddha really did cause a water buffalo to speak in a foreign language, I want a simplistic answer. I don’t want a long drawn-out “scholarly” explanation. You are a smart guy. Why don’t you get that??

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                    29. And that is what every cult member does when he has been backed into a corner: They attack the person asking the simple question. “I don’t have to answer your very simple question because there is something wrong with YOU.”

                      Baloney.

                      You will not answer simple questions with simple answers regarding your belief in resurrecting corpses for the same reason the Emperor’s tailors would not answer simple questions with simple answers about invisible thread: Everyone would see the silliness and irrationality of your position!

                      That is why you have created very complicated, sophisticated-sounding explanations (smoke and mirrors) for your supernatural-based belief. Once you have presented and pontificated your sophisticated-sounding argument with your nose held high, you, like the Emperor’s tailors, label anyone who cannot comprehend and agree with your argument as an ignoramus (fundamentalist).

                      But I can’t blame you: This the only way belief in your ancient tall tale can survive in a modern, educated world where everyone has access to massive quantities of information on the Internet, just one click of a mouse away.

                      Your belief is doomed, Joel. Christianity is dying in the educated West. Your sesquipedalian spin is not going to save it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    30. “That is why you have created very complicated, sophisticated-sounding explanations (smoke and mirrors) for your supernatural-based belief.”

                      Translation: “We don’t need all yer high-faluting gibber gabber! All that them thar learnin’ is hogwash I tell ya! We gots ourselves really simple questions because we read really simple-like! And if youz can’t give us no answer like a simple “yesm” or “nawz,” then we’z just gunna sheet our breeches!”

                      “If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple. Very often, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made ‘religion’ simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against such people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time.” –C.S. Lewis

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                    31. At one time in human history, belief in witches was considered rational. Today, the overwhelming majority of people (in the educated West) no longer believe in witches.

                      At one time in human history, everyone in the West believed that belief in a literal Devil was rational. Today, a significant percentage of people in the educated West no longer believe in a literal “devil”.

                      I believe that in not too many years, most people in the educated West will no longer believe that it is rational to believe in invisible superheroes with supernatural powers (gods). Belief in gods, including your god, will be considered irrational and silly.

                      So keep attacking your critics, Joel. Keep howling how stupid and ignorant they are. The bottom line is that the social respectability and acceptance of your ancient tall tale is dying in the educated West.

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                    32. You continue to trot out oversimplistic caricatures while thinking you appear to be wise and sophisticated. Your arguments are sophomoric.

                      “Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack.” –Lewis is describing what you do

                      “You must be on your guard against such people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time.”
                      –Lewis is describing you here

                      You are full of crap, Gary. You think that if you can just keep lobbing these sophomoric and condescending “arguments,” along with oversimplistic, overgeneralized, sweeping caricatures of both history and the Bible, that somehow I’ll eventually capitulate and bow down to your “enlightened” view. Sorry, I can tell an arrogant and condescending bully from a mile away, and I never tuck my tail and slink off. If you keep trying to shove your condescending crap in my face, I’m just going to shove right back down your throat.

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                    33. C.S. Lewis, you, and all other “sophisticated” apologists for Christianity are no different than the Emperor’s tailors: both selling snake oil.

                      However, unlike the Emperor’s tailors, I do believe that you (and C.S. Lewis) peddle your snake oil sincerely believing in its veracity and wholesome benefits. That is why I don’t attack you personally that harshly.

                      I was once where you are. Your brain is operating in a delusion; a beautiful delusion that you have cherished since you were a child. Every fiber of your body wants to believe that your delusion is true.

                      It is not.

                      And your delusion is not benign. It is a fear-based superstition that has been the cause of countless wars, pogroms, inquisitions, along with massive persecution and discrimination. Let us all “pray” for its quick demise.

                      I’m done with this pissing contest. I’ll let you have the last word.

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                    34. Haha, you don’t attack me personally. Just listen to yourself. Do you have any clue as to how arrogant and condescending you sound? And what makes it funnier is that I know more about Biblical Studies than you, and yet you think you’re an expert. It’s like a YECist who goes online to tell a PhD in Biology how he’s so wrong and deluded.

                      Seriously, Gary…I hope one day you learn some humility.

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                    35. I mean, geez, your modus operandi is so transparently pathetic. You hop on someone’s blog, pester them them relentlessly, and then you take some of their comments out of context and throw them up on your blog for clicks. You’re not serious. Every time you start commenting on my blog, (A) I know you’re going to do it non-stop for at least a week, and (B) I know within a day or two you’ll be throwing up a very decontextualized and lame post of your own.

                      It is so predictable.

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                    36. @ Joel

                      The irony of your approach is obviouly lost on you, Joel.
                      I disappear for the night and come back to find your seemingly endless diatribes littering Gary’s post.

                      The next time you consider calling anyone a ”dickish troll” it would be a good idea to pause for a bit of self reflection on exactly what trollish behaviour is.

                      You continue to trot out oversimplistic caricatures while thinking you appear to be wise and sophisticated. Your arguments are sophomoric.
                      You have used this phrase in part or whole on more occasions than I can recall.
                      If your arguments had any merit you would not need to feel so ‘put-upon’ or fly off on tangents and continually whine on about ”oversimplistic caricature” and recognise it is precisely because of all the tap-dancing and equivocation – not to mention the veiled threats , and some not so veiled from the numerous sects of your religion – that these caricatures of your religion,its proponents/ ”leaders” (sic) and its followers are leveled.

                      It is risible to consider people such as De Grasse Tyson or Brian Greene behaving in the childish manner that you conduct yourself when asked for evidence.

                      In fact, there is every likliehood such histionics would ensure they were scorned and ridiculed by their fellow scientists.

                      And this is why I strongly believe the term ”indoctrination” can no longer be considered as an excuse for your blatent wilfull ignorance.

                      .

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                    37. You both just cant stop.
                      Yes, you are asking oversimplistic questions, and yes, you are demanding oversimplistic, Fundamentalist-type answers. And when you dont get those easy answers that you can swat away (precisely because they are oversimplistic, Fundie answers) you bitch about how the person is trying to use “sophisticated” arguments. And when you continue thst line for more than a year and a half, yes, you deserve some derision.

                      So, not sorry.

                      It is laughable.

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                    38. YOU claimed the gospels are historically reliable.
                      YOU qualified that with your initial answer – which I agreed with.
                      YOU then asserted that the gospels are historically reliable in toto

                      Then, when pressed for evidence to support this outlandish assertion you did nothing but equivocate, go off on meaningless tangents, insult, rant, whine and generally behave like an arse.
                      YOU are a fraud and a liar.
                      Oh, and you can add coward to the list as well.

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                    39. The Gospels ARE historically reliable. But no one in their right mind thinks anyone can go through, point by point, episode by episode, and provide undisputable evidence for every single solitary thing in the Gospels. That’s not how historians go about things. You are demanding a kind of evidence to establish veracity that no historian would dream of demanding for anything in history.

                      When we say the Gospels are historically reliable, we mean that they provide a reliable portrait of the historical Jesus. We aren’t saying that we can “conclusively prove” every single item mentioned in them.

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                    40. “Historical” — Having once lived, existed or taken place in the real world as distinct from being legendary
                      “Reliable” — Conforming to fact and therefore worthy of belief

                      Hmmmm.

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                    41. Wow! How you can make that statement based on those definitions blows me away!

                      But when one is totally and completely wrapped up in the type of studies that you are, I suppose I should expect nothing less.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    42. Haha….I’m wrapped up in the academic field of Biblical Studies, and I’m saying the Gospels are historically reliable.

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                    43. Why can’t you give a clear, precise explanation of what you mean by “historically reliable”?

                      If you mean that the Gospels give a reliable picture of the overall theme of Jesus’ message and ministry, that is one thing. But if you are saying that all or most of the stories about Jesus in the Gospels are historical facts, that is quite another.

                      So which is it?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    44. The Gospels ARE historically reliable
                      Really?
                      Well, I am not expecting you or any historian to go through the gospels point by point to satisfy my request, but I also can’t see any reason why a dedicated historian determined to establish historical veracity would NOT be prepared to do just this!

                      After all, hundreds of archaeologists poured into the Sinai to rry to find the ”title deeds” to the promised land, did they not?
                      And they were forced to finally admit there is no evidence to support the biblical claims of the Exodus.

                      Just as there is no evidence for the Noachian flood tale or Adam and Eve.

                      When we say the Gospels are historically reliable, we mean that they provide a reliable portrait of the historical Jesus
                      Weasel words.
                      And who exactly is this ”We”?
                      Only those of a Chriatian bent say such nonsense.

                      Let me remind you that it is YOU who said the gospels are historically reliable, in toto.
                      Now, having been called out, you are backtrackng to your initial comment only this time adding ”sprinkles.”
                      So, plain English.
                      Is the tale of Jesus walking on water historcally reliable?
                      Yes or No?
                      Is the tale of the virgin birth historically reliable? Yes or No?
                      Bear in mind that, no genuine historian ( unbiased and /or no religious obligations like you) would ever likely consider there was historical reliability to these two tales.
                      Therefore, if you insist on asserting Yes! then you have a responsibility to provide evidence.

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                    45. You continue to perpetuate the behaviour for which you have been called out for.
                      You do realise that your initial statement/definition on what you regard as historical reliability I agreed with
                      I still agree with it.
                      I doubt I have agreed with you on anything before this.
                      And almost immediately you change tack, and begin this obtuse pantomine of bullshit.

                      You are the troll, you are a fraud and intellectually dishonest.
                      In short, you are a damn liar.

                      And a very naughty boy.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    46. No one can provide the kind of conclusive evidence you continue to ask for, for every specific episode. When scholars say the Gospels are historically reliable, they are not suggesting that.

                      The fact that you keep banging that drum no matter how many times I try to explain to you–that is why I’m short with you. You just insist to be a pestering troll, and a self-righteous one at that.

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                    47. No one can provide the kind of conclusive evidence you continue to ask for,
                      What the hell is the matter with you?
                      I agreed with your initial statement regarding historical reliabilty.

                      It was you who asserted the gospels are historically reliable in toto.
                      Read that sentence until it sinks in.

                      When you were pressed for plain straightforward evidence on specifics – the virgin birth and Lazarus – you claimed these were also historically relable and went on to offer ridiculous unsubstantiated arguments and a personal belief of historical reliability based on another personal belief.

                      You haven’t ”explained” anything but continue to equivocate and whine after being shown to be a fraud and a liar so I am begining to wonder if you might be having a mental breakdown?

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                    48. As I clearly said earlier:

                      “The Gospels ARE historically reliable. But no one in their right mind thinks anyone can go through, point by point, episode by episode, and provide undisputable evidence for every single solitary thing in the Gospels. That’s not how historians go about things. You are demanding a kind of evidence to establish veracity that no historian would dream of demanding for anything in history.

                      When we say the Gospels are historically reliable, we mean that they provide a reliable portrait of the historical Jesus. We aren’t saying that we can “conclusively prove” every single item mentioned in them.”

                      And yet, you continue to “press for plain straightforward evidence on specifics.”

                      So…what the hell is the matter with you?

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                    49. When we say the Gospels are historically reliable, we mean that they provide a reliable portrait of the historical Jesus.

                      Example: Is the virgin birth regarded as historically reliable by historians who do not have any religious obligation?
                      Yes or No?

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                    50. So you agree that the story of Jesus’ virgin birth, the story of Jesus walking on water, and the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead could be non-historical?

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                    51. @ Joel
                      Out of interest, as we know at least 6 of the Epistles are not genuine would you also consider them historically reliable?
                      How about the other texts?
                      2 Peter for example is recognized as a pious fraud. Woulkd it be wise to consider this to be historically reliable?

                      As more and more scholars and historians are coming to regard Acts as historical fiction how can this possibly be regarded as historically reliable?

                      And even if we apply your initial criteria of what constituted historical reliability for the gospels, surely even this is then thrown into doubt when viewed alongside these other dubious/ interpolated /fraudulant New Testament texts?
                      Furthermore, as the bible as a collection is considered to be the inspired word of Yahweh, why is it that so much of it from beginning to end is riddled with every conceivable error across mutiple disciplines?

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                    52. “Out of interest, as we know at least 6 of the Epistles are not genuine would you also consider them historically reliable?”

                      This is why it is fruitless talking to you. You skew things right out of the gate. A number of Paul’s letters are undisputed. There are some that are disputed–that doesn’t mean they have conclusively shown not to be genuine.

                      And it depends on what you mean by Acts being “historical fiction.” If you mean, “history shaped into a story,” then yes. If you mean (as I am pretty sure you do) “Oh there might be some history in there, but it’s all jumbled up with legends and fiction!” –then no.

                      You just are not interested on honest analysis on this topic. You have a lot of antagonism and a specific agenda to push.

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                    53. So, once again you demonst you have no intellectual integrity/honesty and are more fundamentalist than you are willing to acknowledge.

                      Believe me, it isn’t something anyone here really doubts but it is always nice to have these things confirmed, especially when it comes right out of the horse’s mouth.

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                    54. I understand it better than you.
                      That wasnpt the question.
                      A simple yes or not would have sufficed.

                      Oh, dear, is Dr. Anderson trying to have a pissing contest?

                      A quick look at Wiki
                      ”(1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus) – have been labeled pseudepigraphical works by most critical scholars.”

                      So, are the pastorals historically reliable, Joel?

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                    55. Lol…I teach this for a living, so yes, I’m familiar with the issues in Biblical Studies.

                      And no, you are wrong in your characterization of the Pastorals.

                      “Disputed” does not mean they have been conclusively proven “pseudepigraphical.”

                      You just constantly throw out oversimplistic and misleading caricatures.

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                    56. Lol…I teach this for a living,

                      Under thecircumstances and in the interest of honesty, perhaps you should consider a career change

                      And no, you are wrong in your characterization of the Pastorals.
                      Hey, don’t argue with me …. you’re the ”professional”.
                      Go whine to the larger community of critical bibilcal scholars who consider they are forgeries. As did Marcion by the looks of it

                      As for Jesus’ open declarations about being “one with the Father,” I’ll get right to the point. I doubt that he literally said those things

                      So … not historically reliable, then?

                      about Patton and said he fought “the Germans.”
                      Except Patton was American. Whereas Jesus was Jewish ”fighting” other Jews.
                      maybe you should have put a little more thought into your analogy?
                      John’s gospel is regarded as anti-semitic by critical biblical scholars.

                      .. in the Synoptics, when Jesus calms the wind and the sea,
                      Is this considered historically reliable by critical scholars? ( Naturally, I’m not referrring to you, of course)

                      Even if Matthew, Mark, and Luke all agreed that it was two angels and the empty tomb
                      What empty tomb? Is there any evidence whatseover for an empty tomb? Under these circumatances how can this claim be historically reliable?

                      That leads me to another point. I don’t really think Ehrman really believes everything he’s saying.
                      Whereas you and Evans DO believe everyrhing you say is true? That is simply hilarious. And more than likely a palpable outright lie.
                      Oh, and you do know that Gary will tear your post on Part 3 to shreds.

                      You just constantly throw out oversimplistic and misleading caricatures.
                      Whereas you , Joel are simply a fraud and a liar.

                      Can We Trust the Bible on the Historical Jesus?
                      Well, one thing seems certain, we can’t trust Dr. Joel Anderson.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    57. Lol…Arky, the epitome of critical thinking of scholarship. Bye. You are a complete waste of time.

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                    58. Well, Joelly, that was a highly intellectual critical response.
                      You are a complete waste of time.
                      And yet you have this need to continually troll all over Gary’s blog to try and justify your silly claims of historical reliability.
                      Surely it would be far easier to simply proivide the evidence to support your claims?

                      I found it telling that you felt the need to mention the ”two atheists” on your latest post.
                      Is professional whining also part of your school curriculum?

                      I’m curious, is the reason you teach at a Christian orientated college because a secular bible study college would frown upon the fallacious approach that you, as an inoctrinated Christian would bring to the classroom or do they simply smile and wink at your qualification?

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                    59. Ark-a-delphia,
                      Gary trolled my blog and then took a decontextualized snippet and put it up on his blog to slander me. I popped on to make a comment.

                      A week or two later, both you and he are doing what you do: displaying an alarming combination of ignorance and arrogance. Please stop.

                      And no, I don’t teach at a Christian college. Just another example of your inability to see straight. Bye.

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                    60. Dear Jolene the Professional

                      that all this talk about how the differences between the Synoptics means they aren’t historically reliable is really a smokescree
                      You see? You are a liar. Not once in this entire dialogue have I raised the issue of differences in the synoptics. All I asked was for you to provide evidence for your claims that the gospels are historically reliable.

                      And no, I don’t teach at a Christian college
                      So a Christian-oriented school then?
                      Is this the reason you do not teach a historically reliable course about Christianity?

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                    61. Yes. I-could-not-really-give-a-shit. And this is the umpteenth time you have said ‘bye’ and you still won’t go away!

                      Please don’t hang about on my account.

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                    62. When a significant majority of experts believe something to be true, most educated people accept that majority expert position as fact. An overwhelming majority of experts believe that only seven of Paul’s alleged letters are authentic.

                      The sign that your position is so weak is that you must constantly appeal to minority scholarship to hold it together, Joel.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    63. Said the Emperor’s tailors to the little child…who then repeated what she had just said: The Emperor has no clothes!

                      We don’t need to have a degree in biblical studies (like you) to recognize a tall (fictional) tale when we see one. When someone tells us that he was abducted by Martians last night and taken for a tour of the Red Planet, we can write off his tale as the product of his wild imagination. When someone tells us that he saw Bigfoot while hiking in the Oregon mountains, we can write off his tale as the product of his wild imagination. And when someone tells us that a first century corpse come back to life, ate a broiled fish sandwich with his former fishing buddies, and then rocketed into outer space, we can write off that tale too as a product of someone’s wild imagination.

                      So every time you try to tell us that you understand the supernatural claims of the Bible better than we peons, we are going to chant in unison:

                      Joel has no clothes! Joel has no clothes!

                      Liked by 3 people

                    64. Sorry, you are biblically illiterate, unable to recognize any nuance. You see and judge everything in black and white. Fundamentalist thinking to the core.

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                    65. Which scholars say that the Gospels are historically reliable? Are you claiming that most scholars hold this view or only conservative Protestant and evangelical scholars? Do you have a reputable source for your claim?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    66. Why not? Why do you believe these stories are historical? What evidence do you have other than conjecture that just because some of the statements in the Gospels are true (Pilate was governor; Tiberius was Caesar) that ALL of the stories are true?

                      Liked by 2 people

                    67. I did not ask for ”up front and direct answers” , and, based on your tantrums and irrational meanderings – on this thread alone – I would, in fact, dispute this as well.
                      I asked for evidence to demonstrate YOUR claim of the historical reliability of the gospels.
                      Nothing more.
                      And you have proved once again to be evasive, obtuse, abusive, dishonest, lacking in anything one could call integrity.
                      As I wrote previously, to consider you to be indoctrinated would be to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were simply blind ignorant.
                      You don’t deserve that consideration any longer.
                      I consoider you are a fraud and in all probability a liar.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    68. Nonsense. The original “prophecy” was about a birth in the lifetime of King Hezekiah. Giving “Matthew” the benefit of the doubt, he borrowed this prophecy as a Midrash for Jesus’ alleged birth. The fact is, there is no evidence whatsoever for Jesus alleged virgin birth. Even if we had a signed statement from Mary herself (which we do not), that is not good evidence that her pregnancy resulted from being “overshadowed” by a (holy) ghost.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    69. I disagree. Since you are a Christian, you ACCEPT claims of healings, miracles, resurrection.

                      However, since none of these claims can be proven/verified/validated, it seems to me that it is really YOU who has “subjective presuppositional bias.”

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                    70. I don’t have a subjective presuppositional bias that healings/miracles DO NOT OCCUR. I do not hold to the presuppositional of philosophical naturalism that automatically discounts claims of the supernatural. I am open to the possibility that things happen in this world that cannot be explained by science.

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                    71. Yes, Joel. I get that, You ACCEPT supernatural events — or at least you believe they are entirely possible. This is what makes you a Christian. But you have to admit, since none of them can be proven, it is your perspective that is subjective (e.g., unverifiable).

                      For Gary (and others) to deny such events means they are looking at the claims from a much more objective perspective; that is, based on pragmatic evidence.

                      Bottom line — it’s really all a game of words and meanings. 🙂

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                    72. Joel’s perspective is not really an issue for me. As individuals we are allowed to believe what we like.
                      While I have a passion for Liverpool and consider them one of the best soccer teams on the planet I can at least present actual physical evidence to demonstrate my assertion – even if I am a bit biased! 🙂

                      It’s when we take such beliefs as Joel’s into the marketplace of ideas and make claims of historical reliabilty – or truth if you prefer – that things take a much more serious turn and especially when such ideas are inculcatedd into young minds as fact without having the integrity or the simple common decency to present any evidence to support such claims, but rather insist they are taken on faith and threaten abhorrent punishment for failing to believe.
                      This is nothing but abuse – mental and often physical – certainly, past history shows us.the more ophusical side with all the wars fought over such nonsense.

                      So it is only right we ask for evidence when such claims of historical reliability are made willy nilly.
                      In fact,it is crucial that every skeptic demand that evidence be produced otherwuse there is no such thing as religious freedom.
                      In plain terms: Put up or Push off!

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          1. Unless one actually goes out among the “evil, dangerous, Satan-owned” world, learn their language, learn their arguments, their mass of undermining arguments AGAINST Christendom, and do it equitably… they’ll never find or embrace our true nature here on this Pale-blue dot of a planet and its liberation. Doing so Gary is too frightening, too risky.

            Ahh, but then again, there are also NT passages that teach them NOT to chance becoming better informed, educated, enlightened… a non-Believer. e.g. John 17:14-16 and 1 John 5:19, to name just two.

            Is it any wonder why it is near impossible to dialogue with them Gary? 😉

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  3. @ Mr. Anderson above —

    Bear with me again for a minute please.

    For the last 2-millenia prior to humanity’s growing widespread literacy, science, medicine, and fine arts, teaching diverse, advanced, BROAD education for the masses—outside of nobility, the wealthy elite, and in the West the Roman Catholic Church—simply DID NOT EXIST. This was the way it was in the Age of Gods and Nature’s unexplainable. In the Western and Eastern Hemispheres this was God’s ordained social order because kings, emperors, caliphs, khans, duces, führers, chiefs, or Popes were divinely appointed with direct access to the Almighty above. No commoner/peasant was smart enough or intelligent enough to challenge this social-theological order, much less dethrone it.

    This crude existence began to change when humanity went from agrarian societies/kingdoms to the Renaissance and then into the Industrial Revolution. For the purpose of this comment-thread and our discourse Joel, these human & sociological advancements and progressions have been very, VERY beneficial evolutions for the/a Greater Good, especially when one realizes just how much total power only FEW possessed in societies and kingdoms, e.g. Church leaders, Emperors, and society’s elite, ruling the typically uneducated MANY! To say this another way, it is indeed pluralism, diversity, curiosity, and inquiry/scrutiny that ultimately benefits humanity as a whole while also (hopefully) avoiding authoritarian dictatorships. That was never the case inside the Early Imperial Roman Empire and certainly not the case in the 1st-century BCE to 5th-century CE Levant, or Syro-Palestina. Though Hellenism and Rome were absolutely culturally dominant in almost all facets of life throughout most of the Empire, TOTAL supremacy in all facets of society in 1st- thru 4th-century Palestine—an outlying Province of Hellenic Rome—was NOT the predominate culture nor was its Koine Greek language. This is not disputed by any scholars of the Roman Empire’s authentic, verified history.

    That said, the same group of modern historical and non-Christian biblical scholars also know the three (3) different languages spoken in Syro-Palestina. They were in order of precedence, preference, and priority as follows:

    Syro-Aramaic #1 — that’s what all Semitic Jews, including Yeshua, spoke regularly/daily amongst each other in order to hold on to their heritage and culture inside the Hellenic Roman Empire. When Yeshua/Jesus spoke to fellow Sectarian Jews, he spoke to them in common Syro-Aramaic.

    Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew #2 — this specific dialect of Hebrew was spoken only/primarily by very well educated Jews. They were scholars or rabbinical interns (if you will) in their Sect and Synagogues of the time. A 1st-century Homeland Jew HAD to know Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew in order to correctly read, understand, and teach the Pentateuch/Torah. Aramaic was insufficient for exegesis of the Tanakh and Talmudic literature.

    According to several Roman and many Jewish sources and evidence of Late Second Temple Judaism, Homeland Sectarian Jews usually avoided lengthy engagements with Greek-speaking Romans and Pagans. This wasn’t very hard to do because both cultures had prejudices and intolerance for each other. They usually only engaged when it was absolutely necessary. This was part of Rome’s indifference and Interpretatio graeca of conquered, subjugated foreign cultures often guised as “peaceful tolerance” as long as Roman subjects (Jews) honored Roman gods too. Unfortunately, this dual allegiance flew in the face of Israel’s and Yeshua’s God. According to the Tanakh and all Talmudic literature that compliments that Tanakh, honoring Roman gods was unequivocally IDOLATRY to Sectarian Homeland Jews! Speaking Aramaic and Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew was always one way for Jews of the time to not be corrupted by Rome and Hellenism.

    Koine Greek #3 — this was the common language of (as opposed to Attic Greek of 2nd & 3rd-century Greek Church Fathers) in the eastern Roman Empire’s citizens, rulers, and many military officers and common soldiers in eastern provinces—the Hellas, Asia Minor, Near & Middle East, and Aegyptus—the Pagans or Gentiles. But it was NOT the Homeland Jews’ preferred languages of Aramaic and Hebrew. Ninety to Ninety-five percent of Homeland Jews would NOT HAVE BEEN PROFICIENT in Greek. This fact is only questioned, debated by staunch Evangy-Fundy Christians. Furthermore, Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew cannot be translated, much less correctly interpreted by Greeks reading and scribing in Koine Greek, even if they could read/speak fluently Aramaic. This is a common misconception and error by most modern Christians who wrongly believe THEIR Canonical Greek Gospels, Epistles, etc, are direct, inerrant transliterations of Late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism, the Hebrew Tanakh & Talmudic texts, or Yeshua’s Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew or Syro-Aramaic.

    An increasing amount of Jewish and Secular biblical-historical scholars, like Albert Debrunner, Friedrich Blass, Robert Funk, and later protégés like Nehemia Gordon, are and have adequately shown that Koine Greek transliterations are not only erroneous and/or problematic, but even the Aramaic traditions and papyri (if enough actually existed) were never enough for Greek-scribes or copyists to write error-free transliterations of Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew. It is near impossible if not out right inconceivable in 2nd- thru 4th-century Greco-Roman Church history.

    To be more explicit for you Joel, not only has there been sufficient, highly plausible contentions and support for Aramaic-primacy of 1st-century events/teachings in Syro-Palestina by Homeland Jews, Rabbis, and reformers (Yeshua and many others), but there is just as much highly plausible contentions and support for Mishnaic-DSS Hebrew-primacy for Aramaic-primacy. This makes your Greco-Roman versions (Koine Greek) of Late Second Temple Sectarian Judaism/Messianism, including Yeshua bar Yosef’s Jewish sect, Torah-teachings and reforms… unreliable and in some/many cases absolutely misunderstood, maligned, and wrong. Period.

    I am quite sure that this reply to you as well as all my previous replies to you are as a whole MORE THAN ENOUGH EQUITABLE study for you to step out of your closed Christian bubble of knowledge and find/learn for yourself what most all modern Christians have completely missed, misunderstood, and have been taught ONLY parts of actual history of the Late Second Temple Judaism/Messianism which is unavoidable to knowing who the actual Yeshua bar Yosef and his Jewish sect were.

    Good luck to you Mr. Anderson. Best regards to your family.

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