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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

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March 2019 Archives

March 18, 2019

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

A guest post by Timothy McGrew

In this post, I continue my critical examination of three points in V. J. Torley’s lengthy review essay, wherein Torley summarizes Michael Alter’s even more lengthy book on the resurrection. The previous post is here.

When I asked Torley to select three test cases for examination, the second of his choices was the question of whether Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stood at the foot of the cross, a description (allowing for some latitude in expression) drawn from the narrative of John 19. Torley finds this detail highly doubtful. Here is his objection, in his own words:

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March 24, 2019

Was Jesus Buried in Joseph of Arimathea's New Tomb?

A Guest Post by Timothy McGrew

In this post, I conclude my critical examination of three points in V. J. Torley’s lengthy review essay, wherein Torley summarizes Michael Alter’s even more lengthy book on the resurrection. The previous two posts are here and here.

Torley’s third selected claim, taken from Michael Alter, is that the story of Jesus’ burial is improbable at multiple points, which therefore provides evidence that the Gospels have been substantially factually changed and are not historically reliable.

Here, as in the two previous points, Torley’s method (and presumably Alter’s) is that of a priori history. The idea is to say, at our distance of time, what would not have been done, to infer that therefore it was not done, and to conclude that an account that says that it was done must be false.

This is a terrible way to do history.

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March 29, 2019

Jesus' rejection at Nazareth and Miracles at Capernaum

Here is a lovely undesigned coincidence that was not included in Hidden in Plain View that answers multiple attempted objections to Luke's accuracy.

We begin first with the allegation that Luke has "moved" Jesus' rejection at Nazareth to the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The claim here is that there was only one time when the people in Jesus' hometown grumbled about him, considering the son of the carpenter to be getting uppity, and refused to give him the honor he deserved. As the claim goes, this rejection is recorded later in Jesus' ministry in Matthew 13 and Mark 6, but Luke 4 records it in a way that gives the impression (whether intentionally or unintentionally) that it occurred earlier in Jesus' ministry. Some more conservative scholars will mean this "moving" achronologically. The idea there is that it is just an accident that it appears to us that this occurs early in Jesus' ministry in Luke; Luke wasn't trying to place it chronologically. Other scholars, including Mike Licona, have argued that Luke moved the rejection dyschronologically. That is, Luke really deliberately locates the rejection at Nazareth early in Jesus' ministry though in the world of space and time it happened later. In both cases the scholars reject the claim that something similar occurred twice in Nazareth. (See Licona, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels, p. 194).

This insistence on only one rejection at Nazareth ignores the differences between the two accounts, which are quite consonant with the chronological implication that they are two different events. For example, in Luke 4 the crowd attempts to throw Jesus off a cliff, whereas Matthew and Mark mention no such incident. Nor do they mention any of the specifics of Jesus' preaching on this occasion; Luke gives a full account of what Jesus said, including the remarks that angered the crowd. Mark and Matthew also summarize his visit by saying that he did not do many mighty works because of unbelief, which (if we are speaking of impressions) would naturally give the impression that Jesus did not have to hurry out of town, whereas in Luke the natural impression is that Jesus left immediately after the attempt to kill him. If we had strong other reason to think that these were the same event, these differences could be reconciled into a single event. But as it is, the prima facie chronological case from the Gospels is that these are different events, and the differences in the reports fit very well with that implication. So both sets of evidence point in the same direction--to two different events. The insistence on one event arises from only general similarities, not uncanny similarities--e.g., the fact that the people complain on the grounds that they know Jesus' parents and Jesus' wry quotation of a proverb that a prophet does not receive honor in his own home. These then combine with the almost pathological allergy that New Testament scholars have to believing that something generally similar happened more than once. They may give lip service to the possibility but in practice treat it as a desperate, religiously motivated maneuver rather than the reasonable historical inference that it often is.

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