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Rebuttal to Jochen Katz

 

“Abdullah Smith and his war against the Crucifixion”

By Abdullah Kareem

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV]

 

 

HE WROTE:

Let's continue with the next one of these ludicrous statements:

There is no verification of a significant crucifixion in the writings of historians such as Philo, Tacitus, Pliny, Suetonius, Epictectus, Cluvius Rufus, Quintus, Curtis Rufus, Josephus, nor the Roman Consul, Publius Petronius. The crucifixion also was unknown to early Christians until as late as the Second Century.

As already pointed out, Tacitus and Josephus and some others speak about it. The first sentence is simply wrong. But the second sentence is hilarious. Even the vast majority of liberal and unbelieving New Testament scholars date the gospels into the first century. And the gospels did not invent the crucifixion either, but they were written to give a reliable and enduring record of what had been preached by the apostles from the beginning (cf. Luke 1:1-4).

 

RESPONSE:

The testimonies of Josephus and Tacitus are forgeries, so the first sentence is correct. The second sentence is not hilarious because the Gospels have no evidence for a 1st century date. In fact, the early Church fathers do not mention the Gospels by name; they seem to be quoting oral tradition and not written works.

Justin Martyr records things that are not even found in the Gospels, his ‘Memoirs of the Apostles’ are the Gospels “under a different name”. Yet Justin never mentions the Gospels!

Although a number of writers and apologists have argued that Justin Martyr is the first Christian writer to be cognizant of the canonical gospels, in reality Martyr does not quote from the New Testament texts but apparently uses one or more of the same sources employed in the creation of the gospels, as well as other texts long lost. Furthermore, no other writer subsequent to Martyr shows any awareness of the existence of the gospels until around the year 180. It should also be noted that Martyr 's works did not escape the centuries of mutilation and massive interpolation done to virtually every ancient author's works, which makes the disentanglement all that more difficult. Yet, even as it stands, Justin 's writing still does not demonstrate knowledge of the canonical gospels.(Warning: atheist website [1]

In actuality, the word "Gospels" appears only once in all of Justin 's extant works, found in The First Apology (ch. LXVI), where the phrase occurs "which are called Gospels." This phrase is evidently an interpolation, of which, it must be recalled, there were many in the works of not only Justin Martyr but also practically every ancient author. The phrase is extraneous and gratuitous to the subject matter of the rest of the paragraph. To repeat, it is also the only instance the term "Gospels" is found in Justin 's entire works. Martyr does use the word "Gospel" thrice in his Dialogue, but the term there refers not to the Memoirs or other texts but to the Gospel, i.e. the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. He also refers to the Gospel in one of the fragments of his lost work on the Resurrection, but these few are the only times the word appears in Justin 's known writings. (Warning: atheist website [2]

"Justin Martyr (100-165 CE) relying on the testimony of Papias refers to the gospel of Mark as the "memoir" of Peter. . . . [I]t must be acknowledged that the gospels [as we have them today] do not match the description that Justin Martyr offered for them in the middle of the second century A.D. The gospel of Mark is not a "memoir" of Peter, either in the sense that it recounts in a special way the associations of Peter with Jesus or in the sense that Mark reports first-hand recollections about Jesus. The material on which Mark drew passed through a long process of retelling and modification and interpretation, and it reflects less special interest in Peter than does Matthew's gospel."  [Howard Clark Kee, Jesus in History, (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World Inc., 1970) p. 120.] [3]

There is no physical evidence the Gospels existed in the 1st century, so these liberal and “unbelieving” New Testament scholars are ignorant.

The Church has failed to provide evidence for the Gospels before 150 CE.

http://www.thenazareneway.com/gospels_second_century_writings.htm

http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/earlygospeldate.html

http://www.geocities.com/questioningpage/When.html

http://www.geocities.com/b_d_muller/gospels.html


Walter R. Cassels, the learned author of "Supernatural Religion," one of the greatest works ever written on the origins of Christianity, says: 

"After having exhausted the literature and the testimony bearing on the point, we have not found a single distinct trace of any of those Gospels during the first century and a half after the death of Christ."  

Kloppenborg (1990) notes: 

"We know that even the canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not entirely stable until relatively late in the history of their transmission, so that one must frequently distinguish between earlier and later materials contained within them." [p. 88] 

The Jesus sayings--from oral tradition to the final canonized form that we have today--constantly evolved in a dynamic process which reflected the zeal and enthusiasm of the early Christians who preserved them. Robertson remarks on the reasons why it is difficult to separate the various Jesus traditions from each other: 

"Within a hundred years from the date commonly assigned to the Crucifixion, there are Gentile traces of a Jesuits or Christist movement deriving from Jewry, and possessing a gospel or memoir as well as some of the Pauline and other epistles, both spurious and genuine; but the gospel then current seems to have contained some matter not preserved in the canonical four, and have lacked much that those contain."  [John M. Robertson, Short History of Christianity, quoted in Herbert Cutner, Jesus: God, Man or Myth? (New York: Truth Seeker, 1950) p. 230.[1]

The same article also says:

The first historical mention of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, was made by the Christian Father, St. Irenaeus, about the year 190 A.D. The only earlier mention of any of the Gospels was made by Theopholis of Antioch, who mentioned the Gospel of John in 180 A.D. 

None of these authors identifies himself. Who were they? Were they honest? Did they have first-hand knowledge or accurate sources? We don't know. The first record we have of anybody clearly associating the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with these books was Irenaeus in 180 AD, a century and a half after the reported events. [1]

Paul does not mention the Gospels or quotes them.


Paul, in his relatively undisputed works (those that hardly any scholars think are forgeries: Romans; I and II Corinthians; Galatians) mentions a Jesus, but says nothing of when he lived other than some unspecified time in the past. These works of Paul predate the Gospel of Mark by between ten and fifteen years. When Paul does talk of "witnesses" to the resurrection, his "facts" differ significantly from those in the Gospel stories, which say nothing of the "500 at one time." Also, Paul's understanding of "resurrection" differs significantly from that described in some Gospel stories, his being very much like a phantom (a seed planted, turning out much differently than the original body), whereas the Gospels tend to describe a simple re-animation of the physical body. (Warning: atheist website) 1


The Christian writer Athenagoras of Athens (177 CE) does not mention the Gospels.

 

Athenagoras of Athens wrote a detailed esoteric Christian treatise On The Resurrection Of The Dead arguing that resurrection is possible (in a non-fleshly body), but without once mentioning the resurrection of Jesus, or even using the words Jesus or Christ ! [1]  

 

The Church fathers Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Papias do not mention the Gospels.

Despite the proximity in time between Ignatius and Polycarp, as well as the obvious affinity of their spirits in Christian fortitude, one recognizes in Polycarp a temperament much less oriented to ecclesiastical polity and possessing a much wider acquaintance with the New Testament. Proportionate to the length of what they wrote, Polycarp has two or three times more quotations and reminiscences from the New Testament that does Ignatius. Of 112 Biblical reminiscences, about 100 are from the New Testament with only a dozen from the Old Testament. Polycarp does not refer to older Christian writings by name. [1]

Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria, is known mainly as the author of 7 letters that had exceptional influence in the early church. A Catholic Encyclopedia article is online at St. Ignatius of Antioch. He was apparently anxious to counteract the teachings of two groups: the Judaizers, who did not accept the authority of the New Testament (although the NT did not really exist at that time); and the Docetists, who held that Christ's sufferings and death were only apparent. The letters have often been cited to determine what beliefs were held in the early church… Ignatius does not refer to older Christian writings by name. [2]

"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (Tim C. Leedom, The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read) [3]


There are extant writings accredited to the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp; written, for the most part, early in the second century. These writings contain no mention of the Four Gospels. This also is admitted by Christian scholars. Dr. Dodwell says: "We have at this day certain most authentic ecclesiastical writers of the times, as Clemens Romanus, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, who wrote in the order wherein I have named them, and after all the writers of the New Testament. But in Hermas you will not find one passage or any mention of the New Testament, nor in all the rest is any one of the Evangelists named" [4]

"So strong is the evidence of a late date to this gospel (John), that its apostolic origin is being abandoned by the ablest evangelical writers.... Both Irenaeus and Jerome assert that John wrote against Cerinthus. Cerinthus thus flourished about A.D. 145. [T]here is evidence that in the construction of this gospel, as in that of Matthew, the author had in view the building up of the Roman hierarchy, the foundations of which were then (about A.D. 177-89) being laid.... There is a reason to believe that both [John and Matthew] were written in the interest of the supremacy of the Church of Rome." [5]

". . . the New Testament is not a single book but a collection of groups of books and single volumes, which were at first and even long afterwards circulated separately. . . . the Gospels are found in any and every order. . . . Egyptian tradition places Jn. [John] first among the Gospels." (Mead, The Gospels and the Gospel) See History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two Hundred by Judge Charles Waite, who essentially proves the 170-180 date, and Supernatural Religion by Walter Richard Cassels, for the dating of the gospels and Acts to the last quarter of the second century. The simple fact is that the gospels do not appear anywhere until that time, as Cassels shows quite thoroughly in his scholarly, 1100-page exegesis. (Warning: Atheist website: [6]

The skeptical reader can study the writings of Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, and Clement. There is no evidence for the Gospels before the year 150 CE.


Not a single Gospel was written down at the time of Jesus, they were all written long after his earthly mission had come to an end”. (Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Koran, and Science, p. 127)

 

“In reality, the four gospels selected for inclusion in the New Testament do not make any appearance in the literary and archaeological record until the last quarter of the 2nd century, between 170 and 180 C.E., and even then they are not much mentioned for a couple of decades. In this regard, Church Fathers and archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) stated that the names traditionally attached to the canonical gospels were first designated at the end of the second century” (The Suns of God, Acharya S.)

 

The first substantial physical evidence for the four Gospels comes from near the end of the second century CE, about 170 years after Jesus’ demise.” (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 139)

 

The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them."  (Bronson, C. Keeler, A Short History of the Bible)

"The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels. (The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read, (*)

 

Amazingly, even the Gnostic leaders Basilides (d. 130 CE), Marcion (d. 140 CE) and Valentinus (d. 153 CE) do mention the Gospels by name. The heretic Marcion was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church for his “deviant” beliefs. He founded the Church of Marcion and (allegedly) used the Gospel of Luke.

Marcion’s gospel was different from the canonical Luke.

 

Marcion's version of Luke did not resemble the version that is now regarded as canonical. It not only lacked all prophecies of Christ's coming but the differences with the now canonical version had other serious theological implications as well. In bringing together these texts, Marcion redacted what is perhaps the first New Testament canon on record. [1]

 

Luke may have borrowed from the gospel of Marcion.

 

Dr. Schleiermacher, one of Germany's greatest theologians, after a critical analysis of Luke, concludes that it is merely a compilation,  made up of thirty-three preexisting manuscripts. Bishop Thirlwall's Schleiermacher says: "He [Luke] is from beginning to end no more than the compiler and arranger of documents which he found in existence" (p. 313).

The basis of this Gospel is generally believed to be the Gospel of Marcion, a Pauline compilation, made about the middle of the second century. Concerning this Gospel, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould in his Lost and Hostile Gospels, says: "The arrangement is so similar that we are forced to the conclusion that it was either used by St. Luke or that it was his original composition. If he used it then his right to the title of author of the Third Gospel falls to the ground, as what he added was of small amount." [2]

Marcion rejected the Jewish books and only accepted Paul.


Traditionally Paul is viewed as a bastion of orthodoxy and a crusader against the heretical Gnostics. Yet it is a remarkable fact that the Gnostics themselves never saw him in this light. Quite the opposite – the great Gnostic sages of the early second century CE called Paul ‘the Great Apostle’ and honoured him as the primary inspiration for Gnostic Christianity. Valentinus explains that Paul initiated the chosen few into the ‘Deep Mysteries’ of Christianity which revealed a secret doctrine of God. These initiates had included Valentinus’ teacher Theudas, who had in turn initiated Valentinus himself.

Many Gnostic groups claimed Paul as their founding father and Gnostics calling themselves ‘Paulicians’ continued to flourish, despite persistent persecution from the Roman Catholic Church, until the end of the tenth century. Paul wrote his letters to churches in seven cities which are known to have been centres of Gnostic Christianity during the second century. These Christian communities were led by the Gnostic sage Marcion, for whom Paul was the only true apostle. One thing is for sure: if Paul really were as anti-Gnostic as the Literalists claim, then it is astounding how man Gnostic texts quote him or are actually attributed to him. (Timothy Freke, The Jesus Mysteries, p. 160)

 

Here is the canon of Marcion:

Gospel according to Luke

Galatians

I Corinthians

II Corinthians

Romans

I Thessalonians

II Thessalonians

Ephesians (which Marcion called Laodiceans)

Colossians

Philemon

Philippians

The liberal Christian scholars argue that Marcion did not possess the Gospel of Luke, but only a “pre-Lukan” gospel that was edited by Marcion. Nevertheless, Luke’s gospel is not mentioned by name until 180 CE, forty years after Marcion died.

 

None of these authors identifies himself. Who were they? Were they honest? Did they have first-hand knowledge or accurate sources? We don't know. The first record we have of anybody clearly associating the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with these books was Irenaeus in 180 AD, a century and a half after the reported events. [1]

 

What about the apocryphal documents? The Shepherd of Hermas (97 CE), and the Epistle of Barnabas (130 CE) do not mention the Gospels. The apocryphal books quote the Gospels, but no citations are by name!


The Epistle of Barnabas ca. 130 CE, uses O.T references to support its contents when N.T ones would have been far more appropriate. He refers to a passage in Matt 20:16b and 22:14 and surprisingly for this early date calls it 'Scripture'; this is quite unique. However, 20:16b appears to have been an interpolation and if it was a loose saying, it is more likely the author is using Matt's source, rather than Matt itself. The author chose to use the apocryphal Enoch when writing about the eschaton (instead of Mark l3), and in referring to the crucifixion he refers to the Psalms rather than the Gospels. The Epistle (chap. 7) also has a saying attributed to Jesus not found in the Gospels. (Warning: atheist website) 1  


It is true the Shepherd of Hermas quotes the Gospels, or most likely the sources. The entire book can be read online, it shows absolutely no reference to the Gospels. There are only allusions to the Gospels, but Hermas never says he’s quoting from written texts. The gospels Matthew and Luke are based on Mark and Q, which is called the Two Source Hypothesis. 


The two-source hypothesis states that Matthew and Luke independently copied Mark for its narrative framework and independently added discourse material from a non-extant sayings collection called Q. Much work has gone into the extent and wording of Q, particularly since the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas which attests to the sayings gospel genre. Holtzmann's 1863 theory posited an Ur-Marcus in the place of our Mark, with our Mark being a later revision. Some scholars occasionally propose an unattested revision of Mark, a deutero-Mark, being the base of what Matthew and Luke used. Streeter (1924) further refined the Two-Source Hypothesis into a Four-Source Hypothesis, with an M and an L being a unique source to Matthew and Luke respectively, with Q and L combined into a Proto-Luke before Luke added Mark. [1]

 

Let us briefly discuss the apocryphal book called the Didache which does not mention the Gospels.


Fragments of the Didache were found at Oxyrhyncus (P. Oxy 1782) from the fourth century and in coptic translation (P. Lond. Or. 9271) from 3/4th century. Traces of the use of this text, and the high regard it enjoyed, are widespread in the literature of the second and third centuries especially in Syria and Egypt. It was used by the compilator of the Didascalia (C 2/3rd) and the Liber Graduun (C 3/4th), as well as being absorbed in toto by the Apostolic Constitutions (C c. 3/4th, abbreviated as Ca) and partially by various Egyptian and Ethiopian Church Orders, after which it ceased to circulate independently. Athanasius describes it as 'appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness' [Festal Letter 39:7]. Hence a date for the Didache in its present form later than the second century must be considered unlikely, and a date before the end of the first century probable. (Jonathan Draper writes, Gospel Perspectives, v. 5, p. 269)

Amazing, the Didache dates from the 1st century, but it doesn’t quote the Gospels!

The prayer of thanksgiving (eucharist) for the community meal in chapters 9 and 10 are also significant. That is because they do not contain any reference to the death of Jesus. Accustomed as we are to the memorial supper of the Christ cult and the stories of the last supper in the synoptic gospels, it has been very difficult to imagine early Christians taking meals together for any reason other than to celebrate the death of Jesus according to the Christ myth. But here in the Didache a very formalistic set of prayers is assigned to the cup and the breaking of bread without the slightest association with the death and resurrection of Jesus. The prayers of thanksgiving are for the food and drink God created for all people and the special, "spiritual" food and drink that Christians have because of Jesus. [1]


The apocryphal book Didache can be read online, it shows no reference to the Gospels. The only resemblance is the “Lord’s Prayer” found in chapter 8.

The Didache was written by Jewish Christians:


It is held by very many critics that the Two Ways is older than the rest of the Didache, and is in origin a Jewish work, intended for the instruction of proselytes. The use of the Sibylline Oracles and other Jewish sources may be probable, and the agreement of ch. ii with the Talmud may be certain; but on the other hand Funk has shown that (apart from the admittedly Christian ch. i, 3-6, and the occasional citations of the N. T.) the O. T. is often not quoted directly, but from the Gospels. Bartlet suggests an oral Jewish catechesis as the source. But the use of such material would surprise us in one whose name for the Jews is "the hypocrites", and in the vehemently anti-Jewish Barnabas still more. The whole base of this theory is destroyed by the fact that the rest of the work, vii-xvi, though wholly Christian in its subject-matter, has an equally remarkable agreement with the Talmud in cc. ix and x. Beyond doubt we must look upon the writer as living at a very early period when Jewish influence was still important in the Church. He warns Christians not to fast with the Jews or pray with them; yet the two fasts and the three times of prayer are modelled on Jewish custom. Similarly the prophets stand in the place of the High Priest. [2]

 

Amazingly, the pagan ritual of Eucharist (chapter 9) is absent from the Gospel of John.


The more one studies the Gospels, the more the contradictions between them become apparent. Indeed, they do not even agree on the day of the crucifixion. According to John’s Gospel, the crucifixion occurred on the day before the Passover. According to the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Mathew, it occurred on the day after. And most significantly, the Gospel of John makes absolutely no reference to the institution of the Eucharist – the consecration of the bread and wine which become the body and blood of Jesus – the most essential act of the Christian liturgy. How can this omission in John’s Gospel be explained? If one reasons objectively, the hypothesis that springs immediately to mind – always supposing the story as told by the other three evangelists is exact – is that a passage of John’s Gospel relating to the said episode was lost. Explanations by Christian theologians that ‘John was not interested in the traditions and institutions of a bygone Israel, and was therefore dissuaded from showing the institution of the Eucharist in the Passover liturgy’ do not really help to explain the omission. Are we seriously to believe that it was a lack of interest in the Jewish liturgy which led John not to describe the institution of the most fundamental act in the liturgy of the new religion? [3]

 

The late composition of the Gospels is a problem for the Church.


Christianity today is said to be based on revealed knowledge, but none of the Bible contains the message of Jesus intact, and exactly as it was revealed to him. There is hardly any record of his code of behaviour. The books in the New Testament do not even contain eye-witness accounts of his sayings and actions. They were written by people who derived their knowledge second-hand. These records are not comprehensive. Everything which Jesus said and did which has not been recorded has been lost forever. (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, p. 195)

Each of the four Gospels contains a large number of descriptions of events that may be unique to one single Gospel or common to several if not all of them. When they are unique to one Gospel, they sometimes raise serious problems. Thus, in the case of an event of considerable importance, it is surprising to find the event mentioned by only one evangelist; Jesus's Ascension into heaven on the day of Resurrection, for example. Elsewhere, numerous events are differently described-sometimes very differently indeed-by two or more evangelists. Christians are very often astonished at the existence of such contradictions between the Gospels-if they ever discover them. This is because they have been repeatedly told in tones of the greatest assurance that the New Testament authors were the eyewitnesses of the events they describe! (Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Quran and Science, p. 64)

 

The scholar Robert Funk confesses: 

“The author of Mark, the earliest of the narrative gospels, was not an eyewitness: he is reporting information conveyed to him by a third person or persons, who themselves were quite possible not eye-witnesses” (Robert Walter Funk, The Acts of Jesus, p. 4)

The Gospels are not written by eye-witnesses because (1) The Gospels were composed decades after the apostles were martyred. (4) The Gospels were written in Greek, yet the language spoken by Jesus was Aramaic. (5) The Gospels misquote the Hebrew Scriptures because they relied on the Greek Septuagint. (6) The miracles of Jesus in the Gospels were borrowed from the Old Testament. (7) The apostles Peter and John were illiterate (Acts 4:13) The oldest manuscripts of the Gospels are fragments! (8) The Gospels were chosen from a stock of forgeries, how do we know the Gospels are not also forgeries? (9). The Gospel writers borrowed from each other.  (10) The Gospels are anonymous. (11) The Gospels contradict each other. (12) The Gospels have been changed over time. (13) The Gospels are fictional narratives based on the sun-god myth.

The author Ulfat-Aziz-us-Samad says:

In considering how far the four Canonical Gospels faithfully present the inspired message or the Gospel of Jesus we must bear the following facts in mind: (1) that no written copy was made of the inspired sayings of Jesus in his life time; (2) that the earliest records of the sayings of Jesus which were made shortly after the departure of Jesus, when the glorification of Jesus had already begun, have all been irretrievably lost; (3) that in the Gospels, which were written between 70 and 115 C.E. on the basis of some of those lost documents, the material contained in them was handled rather freely, the Gospel-writers feeling no hesitation in changing it for what they considered to be the greater glory of Christ or to bring it in line with the views of their sects; (4) that none of the Evangelists had known Jesus or heard him speaking; (5) that the Gospels were written in Greek whereas the language spoken by Jesus was Aramaic; (6) that they were composed to propagate the points of view of the different factions and that they were chosen from many others which represented different view-points; (7) that for at least a century after they were written they had no canonical authority and could be and were actually changed by the copyists of the different sects to serve their own purpose; (8) that the earliest extant manuscripts of the Gospels – Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrius – belong to the fourth and fifth century, and no one knows how much the Gospels had been changed during the centuries of which no manuscript is available; (9) that there are considerable differences at many places among the various extant manuscripts of the fourth and fifth century; and (10) that the Gospels taken as a whole are full of contradictions. (Islam and Christianity, p. 8) [1]

I have emphasized the most significant facts. The oldest manuscript of the Gospels is John Rylands P52, and it’s merely a fragment. The early Christians failed to preserve the original MSS because they believed Jesus would return shortly. The Church father Athanasius selected the 27 books in the year 367 CE, these New Testament books were later canonized at the Council of Hippo (393 CE) and the Council of Carthage (397 CE), over four hundred years after Jesus!

My facts are confirmed by reliable sources:

Given these discrepancies, the Gospels can only be accepted as a highly questionable authority, and certainly not as definitive. They do not represent the perfect word of any God; or, if they do, God's words have been very liberally censored, edited, revised, glossed, and rewritten by human hands. The Bible, it must be remembered- and this applies to both the Old and New Testament. This list was ratified by the Church Council of Hippo in 393 and again by the Council of Carthage four years later. At these councils a selection was agreed upon. Certain works were assembled to form the New Testament. This list was ratified by the Church Council of Hippo in 393 and again by the Council of Carthage four years later. At these councils a selection was agreed upon. Certain works were assembled to form the New Testament as we know it today, and others were cavalierly ignored. How could a conclave of clerics infallibly decide that certain books "belonged" in the Bible while others did not? Especially when some of the excluded books have a perfectly valid claim to historical veracity? As it exists today, moreover, the Bible is not only a product of a more or less arbitrary selective process. It has also been subjected to some fairly drastic editing, censorship, and revision. (Michael Baigent, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, p. 318)

The most unreliable New Testament book is 2Peter, which was canonized 400 years after Jesus.

This is one of the last of the books accepted into the canon of the New Testament at the Council of Laodicea in 372 due to the influence of Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine. Earlier, neither Irenaeus nor Polycarp of Smyrna supply quotations from this text, but writers such as Origen and Polybius make comment on the work, discussing its debated status. [1]

The crucifixion of Jesus was invented during the oral traditions. The Gospels contradict each other, and misquote the Old Testament.

http://www.answering-christianity.com/101q.htm

http://www.answering-christianity.com/bible-speak.htm

http://www.answering-christianity.com/criticism.htm

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_still/john_context.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/1994/1/1voice94.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/unique.html


According to Matthew 13:25, Jesus misquotes the Psalms.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

However, Psalm 78:2-3 is completely different.

"I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark [ancient] sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us."

For the sake of argument, let us suppose the Christian traditions are true: The Gospels were composed between 70 and 100 CE, this means Paul wrote approximately 20 years before the Gospels were written. The New Testament is dominated by the epistles of Paul (50-64 CE) and the Gospels were produced much later (70-100 CE).

The new cult of the dead and risen messiah originally had a purely Jewish following. It was when the apostle Paul (not one of the original disciples of Jesus) started preaching around AD40 that the number of Gentile convert starts to swell. We have seen that in the letters of Paul the belief about Jesus' death and resurrection was very basic and undeveloped. [1]

Mark is the first gospel to be written:
 

A central working hypothesis of this book and one of the most widely held findings in modem New Testament study is that Mark was the first canonical Gospel to be composed and that the authors of Matthew and Luke (and possibly John) used Mark's Gospel as a written source. (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 23)

Mark is the first gospel to record the crucifixion:

“Mark was the first author to attach the passion narratives in written form to the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth” (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? p. 57)

Mark was not an eye-witness! 

“The author of Mark, the earliest of the narrative gospels, was not an eyewitness: he is reporting information conveyed to him by a third person or persons, who themselves were quite possible not eye-witnesses” (Robert Walter Funk, The Jesus Seminar: The Acts of Jesus, p. 4)

Mark is not based on the traditions of Peter:

"The canonical Gospels of Matthew and Mark can not be identified with the logia of Matthew, and the things said and done by Jesus which Mark wrote, mentioned by Papias. The writer himself does not identify them" (Samuel Davidson, Canon of the Bible, p. 520)

Here is what Christian scholar Mack Burton says: 

“There is no reference to Jesus’ death as a crucifixion in the pre-Markan Jesus material” (Who Wrote the New Testament? p. 87)

What does this mean? It basically means the “crucifixion” story was still developing. Paul (50-64 CE) does not even record a brief account of Jesus’ death.

The new cult of the dead and risen messiah originally had a purely Jewish following. It was when the apostle Paul (not one of the original disciples of Jesus) started preaching around AD40 that the number of Gentile convert starts to swell. We have seen that in the letters of Paul the belief about Jesus' death and resurrection was very basic and undeveloped. [1]

The first thing we need to force into our minds is that when Paul wrote these words, there were no such things as written Gospels.  This means that the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection so familiar to us, as told by these Gospel writers, were by and large unknown to Paul and to Paul’s readers (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, p. 48) 

For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish, offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God's kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual. (ibid, p. 241)  

Paul wrote when the “crucifixion” story was still developing, and very few Christians heard of Jesus’ death (the Gospel version). Another explanation is Paul was a Gnostic and he interpreted Jesus’ death as allegorical.


The Jesus story is a perennial myth with the power to impart the saving Gnosis, which can transform each one of us into a Christ, not merely a history of events that happened to someone else 2,000 years ago. (Timothy Freke, The Jesus Mysteries, p. 13)

The ultra-conservatives keep insisting on a “physical” resurrection of Jesus. Paul, whose work pre-dates the first Gospel, insists on the exact opposite. His fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians could not possibly be clearer. I invite you to read to reread that passage for yourself. This passage is almost pure Platonism. Paul knows only a spiritual resurrection.  (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 174)


The Gnostics denied the resurrection of Jesus, saying he never possessed a physical body, but it was a “phantom body” on the cross. Yet other Gnostics say it was Simon of Cyrene.

The story was invented during oral tradition:

This literature was oral before it was written and began with the memories of those who knew Jesus personally...But oral tradition is by definition unstable, notoriously open to mythical, legendary, and fictional embellishment (Randal Helms, Gospel Fictions, p. 12)

There is nothing in the Gospels that can be found in Paul’s works.

There are 13 letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament. Romans and 1 Corinthians are very long and were written to teach people about the Gospel. But in all of Paul's long letters there is almost nothing about the life of Jesus. Paul knew that Jesus had been crucified, but he never mentions any miracles, any parables, any exorcisms etc.

He never mentions the Lord's Prayer, the Transfiguration, the Sermon on the Mount, Mary, Joseph, Bethlehem, the 3 Wise Men,Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents, Galilee, Nazareth, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Gethsemane, Calvary, the Temptation by Satan etc etc. He never refers to Jesus as the 'Son of Man', one of Jesus's favourite ways of describing himself. 1 Timothy 6:13 mentions Pilate, but 1 Timothy is not by Paul.

According to the Gospels, the Pharisees were bitter enemies of Jesus, yet Paul makes no mention of this and regards his having been a Pharisee as a sign of his having tried to lead a righteous life. [1]

The story of Jesus’ crucifixion was based on oral traditions and put into writing by Mark (70 CE). The Gospels are completely silent on Jesus’ childhood and teenage years.

Strong evidence against Jesus’ crucifixion is the gospel of Q, which was written in 50 CE. The gospel of Q does not record any crucifixion!

The recognition of 19th-century New Testament scholars that Matthew and Luke share much material not found in their generally recognized common source the Gospel of Mark, has suggested a second common source, termed the Q document. This hypothetical lost text—also called the Q Gospel, the Sayings Gospel Q, the Synoptic Sayings Source. [2]

Since the Gospel of Mark was written very late, the crucifixion story did not exist before its composition. Scholars assert that Mark was written before the Jewish War (70 CE), yet this claim is based on the tradition of Papias. The Church father Eusebius (d. 340 CE) said that Papias is untrustworthy, a man of limited knowledge.


Ignatius does not quote Mark!

There is evidence to show that Ignatius of Antioch (d. 110 CE) does not quote the Gospel of Mark, let alone mention its existence!

Ignatius does not refer to older Christian writings by name, but his letters have quotations from these writings:


Ignatius is held in high regard in the West Syrian Church (an independent Christian Church). Every patriarch since 1293 bears the surname "Ignatios" in his honor. The present (1982) patriarch, Ignatios XXXIX Jacob III, rules from Damascus over 11 metropolitans and 3 bishops and over the Syrian Orthodox Church in Malabar. (*)

Christians quote the Book of Acts as “reliable” history. Yet, the Book of Acts is unreliable because Justin Martyr makes no reference to it!

Paul asserts that Jesus was crucified, yet he fails to mention any details which would later be recorded in the gospels!

For Paul there were no empty tombs, no disappearance from the grave of the physical body, no physical resurrection, no physical appearances of a Christ who would eat fish, offer his wounds for inspection, or rise physically into the sky after an appropriate length of time. None of these ideas can be found in reading Paul. For Paul the body of Jesus who died was perishable, weak, physical. The Jesus who was raised was clothed by the raising God with a body fit for God's kingdom. It was imperishable, glorified, and spiritual. (John Shelby Spong, Resurrection: Myth or Reality? p. 241)  

If Paul is the first writer, then he must be relaying the earliest tradition, yet the Gospels, written many decades later, record an entirely different story. This proves the resurrection of Jesus was fabricated.

There are 13 letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament. Romans and 1 Corinthians are very long and were written to teach people about the Gospel. But in all of Paul's long letters there is almost nothing about the life of Jesus. Paul knew that Jesus had been crucified, but he never mentions any miracles, any parables, any exorcisms etc.

He never mentions the Lord's Prayer, the Transfiguration, the Sermon on the Mount, Mary, Joseph, Bethlehem, the 3 Wise Men,Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents, Galilee, Nazareth, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Gethsemane, Calvary, the Temptation by Satan etc etc. He never refers to Jesus as the 'Son of Man', one of Jesus's favourite ways of describing himself. 1 Timothy 6:13 mentions Pilate, but 1 Timothy is not by Paul. [1]

Paul contradicts the Gospels: 

'For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.' 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 

There are several problems with this passage. 

(1). There was no “third day” prophecy in the Old Testament. [1] 

(2). There is no evidence that five-hundred people saw Jesus [2] 

(3). Paul says Jesus first appeared to Peter, yet the Gospels say Jesus first appeared to women!  (Matt 28:1)

(4). Peter disbelieved that Jesus was alive (resurrected). 

(5). Paul implies that Judas did not hang himself, he was still alive (contradicts Matt. 27:5).

(6). Paul describes the body of Jesus to be spiritual (1Cor 15:42). Yet the Gospels say Jesus was physical.


Please refer to the following links:

http://answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/paul_contradicted_himself.htm

http://www.voiceofjesus.org/paulvsjesus.html

http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/paul/paul.htm *

http://www.sol.com.au/kor/7_02.htm


There is nothing in the Gospels that can be found in Paul’s writings.

The passage Luke 1:1-4 is the confession by Luke to have plagiarized other material to write his gospel [1].


Scholars tell us that Matthew and Luke probably had a copy of Mark in front of them as they wrote their books. And so Matthew and Luke agree with Mark on many things. But that is not independent confirmation. When we get to the events that Mark does not mention, such as the birth and the post-resurrection appearances, we find virtually no agreement between Matthew and Luke. The Christmas story in Matthew and the story in Luke have virtually nothing in common. And then there is the book of John. This book is very different from the other gospels on almost every detail until we get to the crucifixion. But when we get to the crucifixion, it matches much of Mark and uses some of Mark's format, causing many scholars to think that John was using Mark as a source here. So we have accounts that were copied from other accounts at some places, and that fail to confirm each other where the writers were not directly copying. This does nothing to verify what was written. [2]



HE WROTE:

Moreover, Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is dated at about AD 55, and the first chapter of it speaks about the crucifixion as being the central message of the gospel. Smith's website even makes a big deal about one statement in 1 Corinthians 1, the chapter about the crucifixion. But he has no problem with mindlessly posting a statement that claims that early Christians were completely unaware of a crucifixion alongside other articles that mock the formulation of one sentence in Paul's discussion of the crucifixion. That is why nobody with half a brain can take these rantings seriously.

 

 

RESPONSE:

 

Note: We don’t have any manuscripts of Paul’s epistles from the 1st century. The originals were composed in 50 CE before Paul was martyred in 64 CE.

The epistles of Paul are the earliest documents of the New Testament (50-64 CE). Even though Paul is the earliest writer, the oldest Greek manuscripts date from the 3rd century. The originals were written by Paul (50 CE), but there is a 250 year gap between the originals and the manuscripts that exist today!


“…Thus, a year after the Council of Nicea, he sanctioned the confiscation and destruction of all works that challenged the orthodox teachings – works by pagan authors that referred to Jesus, as well as works by ‘heretical’ Christians. He also arragned for a fixed income to be allocated to the Church and installed the bishop of Rome in the Lateran Palace. Then in A.D. 331, he commissioned and financed new copies of the Bible. This constituted one of the single most decisive factors in the entire history of Christianity, and provided Christian orthodoxy – the ‘adherents of the message’ – with an unparalleled opportunity.

 

In A.D. 303, a quarter of a century before, the pagan Emperor Diocletian had undertaken to destroy all Christian writings that could be found. As a result Christian documents – especially in Rome – all but vanished. When Constantine, commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit and re-write their material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made, and Jesus assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine’s commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant manuscripts versions of the New Testament, no complete edition pre-dates the fourth century. The New Testament, as it exists today, is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers – custodians of orthodoxy, ‘adherents of the message’, with interests to project. (Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, pp. 338-339)

 

The Codex Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the oldest Greek manuscripts (350 CE).

"...the early Christians evidently saw no need to preserve their original texts for antiquarian or other reasons. Had they been more fully cognizant of what happens to documents that are copied by hand, however, especially by hands that are not professionally trained for the job, they may have exercised greater caution in preserving the originals. As it is, for whatever historical reasons, the originals no longer survive. What do survive are copies of the originals, or, to be more precise, copies made from the copies of the copies of the originals, thousands of these subsequent copies, dating from the 2nd to the 16th centuries, some of them tiny fragments the size of a credit card, uncovered in garbage heaps buried in the sands of Egypt, others of them enormous and elegant tomes preserved in the great libraries and monasteries of Europe."   ["Text and Tradition: The Role of New Testament Manuscripts in Early Christian Studies." The Kenneth W. Clark Lectures Duke Divinity School 1997 Lecture One: "Text and Interpretation: The Exegetical Significance of the "Original" Text" Delivered by Bart Ehram]

The quotations below are from The Jesus Legend, by G.A. Wells. Open Court, 1996, pages 70-71. Emphasis added.)

"There is considerable manuscript variation in what Jesus says on divorce, and whether Luke has a doctrine of the atonement depends on which manuscripts of his account of the Last Supper are to be taken as giving the original reading...The International Greek NT's apparatus of Luke provides what the Birmingham theologian D. Parker reckons to be "upwards of 30,000 variants for that Gospel, so that we have, for example, 81 in the Lord's Prayer." He adds: 

"We do not possess the Greek New Testament.  What we have is a mass of manuscripts, of which only about three hundred date from before A.D. 800.  A mere thirty-four of these are older than A.D. 400, of which only four were at any time complete. All these differ, and all at one time or another had authority as the known text."  [ D. Parker, 'Scripture is Tradition', Theology, 94 [1991], p. 12. Cf. P.M. Head's article 'Christology and Textual Transmission: Reverential Alterations in the Synoptic Gospels' (Novum Testamentum, 35 [1993], p. 111),]

He went on to note "Gospel manuscripts from the second century are very scarce, with only two fragments of John's Gospel definitely written before A.D. 200 (i.e. P52 and P90)."

The Gospels were produced in 70-100 CE (according to Christian legend), yet the oldest “complete” manuscripts of the Gospels date from 350-400 CE. 

Please visit the following links:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Mss/vatican.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Mss/sinai.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Bible/Text/Mss/P52.html


Once again, Paul was a Gnostic initiate, that’s why he records nothing historical about Jesus.


"Where possible Paul avoids quoting the teaching of Jesus, in fact even mentioning it.  If we had to rely on Paul, we should not know that Jesus taught in parables, had delivered the sermon on the mount, and had taught His disciples the 'Our Father.'  Even where they are specially relevant, Paul passes over the words of the Lord." (Albert Schweitzer)

"As we have seen, the purposes of the book of Acts is to minimize the conflict between Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, James and Peter.  Peter and Paul, in later Christian tradition, became twin saints, brothers in faith, and the idea that they were historically bitter opponents standing for irreconcilable religious standpoints would have been repudiated with horror.  The work of the author of Acts was well done; he rescued Christianity from the imputation of being the individual creation of Paul, and instead gave it a respectable pedigree, as a doctrine with the authority of the so-called Jerusalem Church, conceived as continuous in spirit with the Pauline Gentile Church of Rome.

Yet, for all his efforts, the truth of the matter is not hard to recover, if we examine the New Testament evidence with an eye to tell-tale inconsistencies and confusions, rather than with the determination to gloss over and harmonize all difficulties in the interests of an orthodox interpretation. " (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker, p. 139, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1986)

Please visit the following links:

http://www.answering-christianity.com/paul_docs.htm

http://www.answering-christianity.com/paul_or_god_words.htm

http://www.answering-christianity.com/pauls_head_covering.htm

http://www.answering-christianity.com/philosophers.htm


The Gospels are not inspired by God; they don’t have chain of transmission. Luke admits that he used written material to forge his Gospel (Luke 1:3) John admits that he wrote his Gospel ‘for the faith’ (John 20:31).


The Bible is a collection of stories carefully crafted over many generations by peoples deeply concerned about the world and their place in it. Thus, an appropriate question to ask is, "What did these texts mean to the ancients who wrote them?" The Hebrew canon (Christianity's Old Testament) is beyond the scope of this paper so I will confine my remarks to the activity of Christian kerygma (preaching) and the situation that produced the written NT gospels. I hope to show that we should not understand the gospels as literal history, but rather as edited codifications of the dynamic kerygma that promulgated the "good news" of the risen Christ. [1]

“…The Gospels, however, were religious dramas used for worship and as a form of evangelism. They were meant not to impart history but to buttress and convey belief. The editor of John’s Gospel (the least historical of them all) boldly and honestly states his aims in the text itself when he says, “But these things are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah”. The goal is to establish the faithful and to create new converts, not to create an authentic biography. (Tom Harper, The Pagan Christ, p. 126)  

As a Christian literary genre, a gospel is a brief, popular writing in the language of the common people that probably arose outside Palestine in Gentile regions. Its purpose was as propaganda for the early Christian movement. Gospels contain reminiscences of Jesus and his ministry; but their use was to be evangelistic, and their interest was religious, not strictly historical or biographical in the modern sense of those terms. The aim of gospels, as John 20:31 asserts, is to evoke and strengthen faith in Jesus the Christ: “these are written as that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name”. Certainly the center of a gospel is Jesus of Nazareth, but its primary concern is not facts about him but faith in him.  

The gospels were written by people more interested in a living Lord present in their midst than in Jesus the historical man from Nazareth. Many scholars now hold that much of what is placed on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels was put there by Gospel writers (just as the writers of Hellenistic history placed speeches on the lips of famous persons). It is really the understanding that Gospels are faith documents that has led to what is called the “quest for the historical Jesus”. (Bonnie Thurston, Women in the New Testament, p. 63) 


The Gospels are based on hearsay and not historical data based on a chain of transmission. The Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) are reliable because we can verify its authenticity by its chain of transmission! Also, we know the reporter’s name whereas the four Gospels are anonymous. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, reported over 1,000 hadiths to us alone. She was a great scholar of Hadith and the Quran, but the Gospels are unknown, unreliable, and untrustworthy accounts which cannot even stand in the Court of Law! 

How do we know what Jesus (peace be upon him) said? (It is impossible to know for certain whether the sentences attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him) in the NT were actually uttered by him. This is because missionaries have no isnads to trace Jesus's (peace be upon him) words back to him!) 

What is isnad? Isnad is the chain of narration. The Christians have the matn (text) of their scripture but no isnad (chain of narration). Hence it is impossible to trace back the alleged words attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him) all the way back to his mouth. How can it be known that the Christian material is not mixed with falsehood when there is an absence of isnads and no verification checks in place at all. Hence the believers in the NT are all following utter conjecture and anonymous words whose source we cannot know and neither can we trace back the words or verify them. [1]  

The Christian 'hadîth' is composed of matn (text) but no isnad (chain of narration). Without isnad, as cAbdullah b. al-Mubarak said, anyone can claim anything saying that it is coming from the authority. The authorities in the case of Christian 'hadîth' are the Apostles and later day Church Fathers. But how can one be sure that the Christian 'hadîth' is not mixed with falsehood without the proper isnad and its verification? [2]  

Most Greek-speaking authors heard these traditions in the Aramaic vernacular and committed them to writing in Greek. None of these writings is dated prior to the year 70 C.E.; there is not a single instance in these works where the author has cited an authority for an event or maxim attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him) in order that we might construct a chain of transmission. Furthermore, even their works have not survived. Thousands of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were collected, but none of them is older than the fourth century C.E.; rather the origin of most of them does not go beyond the period intervening between the 11th and the 14th centuries.  (Sayyid Abdul Al-Ala Mawdudi, The Message of the Prophet’s Seerah, pp. 8-9)