Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Answering a Question

DoOrDoNot asked, “I'm interested in what you would do with this in light of the "die for a lie" argument. Even if Christians weren't systematically persecuted, but had legitimate reason to fear prosecution, wouldn't that still lend some support to the argument?”

The problem regarding “Die for a Lie” is:

1) We don’t have enough information;
2) The information we do have tends toward bias; and
3) We fail to understand people’s motivations.

Remember, this argument is ONLY useful regarding those claiming to see a physically resurrected Jesus, or perhaps those involved in an initial fabrication and/or conspiracy. Everyone agrees people willingly face persecution, torture and martyrdom for something incorrect—a “lie.” Even Christians agree Muslims will blow themselves—dying for “a lie.” Imagine a few scenarios—all very plausible.

1) Peter (and Paul) have an altered state of consciousness, believe they see Jesus post-mortem and convince others Jesus is still alive. They spread Christianity, are persecuted, and eventually suffer martyrdom. “Die for a Lie” doesn’t work, because they didn’t think it a lie—just like Muslims dying for an incorrect claim, these individuals were dying for what they thought was true (even though it wasn’t.)

2) Peter and Paul initially teach and believe Jesus was resurrected spiritually in heaven, and it is only later-developed Christianity, after Mark’s Gospel, that the idea of a physically resurrected Jesus is claimed. Again, taught, persecuted and martyrdom. Again, “Die for a Lie” doesn’t work, because they were dying for what they thought was true—even if it wasn’t.

Let’s try something allowing “die for a lie” to have more force:

3) Peter (and/or other Disciples) completely make-up the concept of physically resurrected Jesus. They obtain wealth, honor and status as leaders in the church. There is sporadic persecution in certain localized areas against the Church. Unless one can demonstrate the conspirators themselves were in actual danger, “die for a lie” still doesn’t hold sway, because the persons involved didn’t think it would happen to them until too late.

We should pause at this point and note Paul certain was persecuted and actively pursued. But Paul is a later convert who (even under the best Christian scenario) saw a vision and was converted. He wasn’t part of any initial conspiracy.

And finally, the best possible chance for “die for a lie”:

4) Peter (and/or other Disciples) completely make-up the concept of physically resurrected Jesus. They obtain wealth, honor and status as leaders in the church. Active persecution directly against the conspirators putting them in imminent danger. Now they would certainly not “die for a lie,” right? ‘Cause we certainly would not. But are we projecting our 21st Century motivations on 1st Century individuals?

Dr. Moss raises the interesting example of Achilles. Remember, for these individuals, unless one was a great person of importance, there would be no record of your ever having been alive. No obituaries, no High School yearbooks, no scrapbooks, no pictures, no videos, no Facebook. Nothing. Once dead, you disappeared like your ancestors did, and your descendants would likely do. The only way to be known was to have your reputation remembered.

Dr. Moss pointed out Achilles had two (2) contradictory prophecies about his life. Either he would live a very, very long time but he would be an unknown person, eventually long forgotten. Or he would gloriously die at a young age, and his reputation would be remembered forever. Achilles chose fame as his means of living forever.

If given the same choice—what would Peter do? Or the other Disciples? If they believed they would be remembered for a long time….would they willingly die for a lie?

Instead of creating possible scenarios, look at the facts we have:

1. At some point in the First Century, individuals began claiming Jesus was resurrected either physically or spiritually post-mortem from crucifixion death.
2. This group—Christians—fought amongst themselves regarding whether to continue Jewish practices. Some did, some claimed they did not.
3. There is no Jewish or secular record of Jewish persecution against Christians.
4. The only record of organized Jewish persecution against Christians is from Christian sources, almost exclusively one (1) book—Acts of the Apostles. A book demonstrating an anti-Jewish bias.
5. The Jewish authorities had their hands full with a variety of competing Jewish claims—Christianity would be one amongst dozens. Not to mention governmental shifts, Roman oppression, and rebellion.
6. Within the first 10 years of its existence, Christianity shifted its focus from converting Jews to converting Gentiles.

[From this, I would argue there was no organized Jewish persecution, but the readers can draw their own conclusion.]

7. The Christian leaders (by their own accounts) gained wealth, honor and status within their community.
8. The first Roman persecution—Tacitus’ account of Nero—the Christians were scapegoats. No opportunity to recant, or avoid persecution. Plus this was Rome, not necessarily near the disciples.
9. The second recorded account regarding organized Roman government pursuit of Christians was Pliny the Younger where Christianity is reviewed as a puzzlement. This is too late for “die for a lie” to work.

So where does “die for lie” even come in? One would have to create a scenario similar to number 4 above that speculatively draws from Christian documents, and ignore the culture, Jewish situation, leaders’ status and complete absence in other historical documents of the times.


  1. What's weird is I once thought die for a lie was a compelling argument.

  2. so did I Jon. I witnessed to plenty of heathen buddies of mine with that irrefutable bit of logic.

  3. This was quite helpful. Thanks for taking the time to respond so comprehensively. I appreciate your point about not understanding the motivation of others, esp those from a distant time and culture.

  4. Scenario 1: Peter and Paul weren't the only ones who claimed they saw Jesus. In fact, they had such a firm knowledge Jesus was dead that they were not easily convinced Jesus was alive again.

    Scenario 2: Mark's gospel was written DURING the time Peter and Paul were teaching - a physical resurrection was not a later idea. From Paul's writings it is obvious he believes in a physical resurrection and Peter talks of Christ being ALIVE and he is aware of Paul's letters. There was never a "spiritual" resurrection taught.

    Scenario 3: Where is proof Peter obtained wealth??? The early believers shared all they had with anyone in need. There was no hoarding of riches for the "good of the few". Peter's beatings aren't a sign of danger? What about Herod putting him in prison and intending to kill him? And after Peter's narrow escape, he kept preaching!

    Scenario 4: You're talking of a man who was scared to admit even knowing Jesus, let alone following Him. A man who was in hiding for fear of his life! Furthermore, there wasn't a one-time incident of "do this, it'll make you famous. Yeah, I know you don't believe it's true, but hey, don't you want to be remembered and talked about?" Rather, the rest of Peter's life was FILLED with uncomfortable (some might say dangerous) situations, climaxing with an excruciating death. It is from Josephus that we have record of Peter's agonizing end by an upside-down crucifixion. Would anyone, even a 1st Century guy, suffer willingly a death like that for fame? Has humanity changed so much that your own well-being used to be of such little concern as to be willing to die for a lie simply for the sake of notoriety?

    Fact 1: From the record we have, it was obviously a physical resurrection.
    Fact 2: Is this a strawman?
    Fact 3: Does Wikipedia count?
    Fact 4: Anti-Jewish?! Not at all. Paul, a main figurehead, says "For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my countrymen by physical descent. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. The forefathers are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, blessed forever."
    Fact 5: Seems they were worried enough about Christianity as to push for the death of the leaders.
    Fact 6: So when Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile," it's because the primary focus is to convert Gentiles to believe in a physical resurrection of a dead Jew and be put in danger for their lives?
    Fact 7: Gained wealth? A better way of life? Yet to be proved.
    Fact 8: The Roman persecution is, at least, agreed upon! Though we cannot push our 21st Century ideas onto them as why they did it.
    Fact 9: Pliny the Younger doesn't understand the obstinacy of Christians who, in the face of death, refuse to give up their belief in Christ Jesus. As you say, they can't be dying for a lie.

  5. Andr3ws,

    I wrestled with answering your comment. I cannot tell whether you are looking for information and debate is a means to determine it (which is interesting) or you want to debate just to demonstrate your position—a position I am extremely familiar with. If all you want to do is debate (which is not interesting to me at all), I would note it and move on—believe what you will. If you are actually looking for information, I would be happy to provide.

    So to better determine your intentions, I will draw on one error/correction and see how it goes from there. Josephus never mentions Peter, let alone how he died. We first learn the legend of the upside-down crucifixion in Acts of Peter (150 – 200 CE) You can click on the link to read it.

    After reading it, can you see why this document strikes against “Won’t Die for Lie”? Hint: what was the reason Peter was convicted and executed according to the document?

    1. DagoodS,

      I really don't want to debate. Usually a debate is just each person trying to prove their own side and not trying to determine truth or even be willing to change their viewpoints and opinions if shown errors. Don't you agree?

      And speaking of errors, my, how embarrassing! I confess, I read an article that said Josephus wrote about it, but didn't bother to check it out. Thank you very much for correcting me. I shall eschew propagating that the upside-down crucifixion story in the future! As far as the "Acts of Peter" goes, it was very unlike the Bible and it's teachings inconsistent with the Bible. So, as I will reject the story of Peter's crucifixion as presented in "Acts of Peter", I must also reject it's supposed reasons WHY he was supposedly executed. Logical, yes?

      Anyway, as you are a very busy man, I have no doubt, I understand completely any reluctance to respond further. (This is your "out"!) And if you are still wondering about my "intentions", I will say this. A favorite teacher of mine recommended I check out your blog. I think I was supposed to learn something??? (And I highly suspect he was tiring of my continual questions and comments!) And then I couldn't resist remarking on what I saw/thought were inconsistencies.

      Thank you for the patience you've shown.

      P.S. The next two comments below seem to be responses to my own comments. But it's your blog, so, however much I may be tempted to answer them, I shall respectfully leave it up to you.

  6. i don't get these christians. the bible says that the deciples changed from doubters to believers and this is proof that christianity is true? the whole point of christian propaganda in the bible is to sell jesus as "son of a god" so isn't it obvious that the book isn't going to sell doubt to the believers? i remember reading somewhere that if peter became apostate when he was crucified upside down, christian observers would change the story just like luke does when he reads about jesus' crying out "my god, my god, why have you forsaken me"

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I don't think the point is that Christianity is true because doubters become believers. Certainly that alone is no proof! Rather, I think the point is that an account was written of historical events (the existence of Jesus cannot be denied) in a time span where the account could be verified. And verified it was! By men who saw with their own eyes - even when they didn't want to believe.

      I do not understand what you mean by Luke changing the story?

    2. how can you say verified when your only evidence is the bible? and the bible says that christians became doubters in the ressurection. paul does not inform the doubting christians about peter poking jesus. festus cannot VERIFY jack. jewish authouries cannot VERIFY anything about jesus' ressurection,because steven is seeing things which they can't.

      matthew says some doubted and full stop. mark says that women fled from the tomb and said nothing to anyone. this means there was no jesus found outside of the tomb and there was no report about empty tomb to peter. the way luke's jesus DIES is not the way marks jesus dies. marks jesus becomes blasphemour on the cross, but lukes becomes strong believer on the cross.

      Death’s Loud Voice: Mark
      And Jesus cried [aphiemi: uttered/let go/departed ("went out")] with a loud voice [phone-megas] and gave up the ghost. (Mark 15:37)
      To appreciate the image the author is conveying here, we need to be aware that just three verses earlier he had written:
      And at the ninth hour Jesus cried [boao - same for the voice crying in the wilderness] with a loud voice [phone-megas], saying, . . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34)
      And just as significantly, in two earlier dramatic scenes in this gospel, readers had been regaled with scenes of demons crying out with loud voices at the moment they were commanded to leave the bodies they had so long possessed.
      And when the unclean spirit [pneuma] had torn him, and cried out with a loud voice [phone-megas], he came out of him. (Mark 1:26)
      And cried with a loud voice [phone-megas] . . . and the unclean spirits [pneuma] went out . . . (Mark 5:7-13)
      I think all this is a good indication that the author was intentionally using the same imagery for the moment of Jesus’ death as he had used for the expulsion of spirits from the bodies they had possessed. It is a cry of despair and defeat at the moment the spirit leaves its body.
      This interpretation is reinforced by Mark’s description of how the spirit entered and possessed Jesus in the first place.
      He saw the heavens parting and the spirit descending [falling down] into [eis] him like a dove . . . and immediately the spirit drove [ekballo: cast] him into the wilderness (Mark 1:10, 12)
      The spirit that entered “into” Jesus (a detail that apparently embarrassed Matthew, since he changed the proposition to “epi”, meaning “lighted upon” Jesus) also “cast Jesus out” into the wilderness. The same word, ekballo, is used of Jesus casting out demons that had possessed other bodies. See this crosswalk.com list for ten such usages of the word in Mark.
      Relying exclusively on the context of Mark’s text, a text that was written to be read aloud to audiences, it appears that the author described Jesus moment when his spirit (pneuma) exited his body in the same way he described the departure of other spirits from bodies — with a loud voice. On the face of it then, the loud cry is surely meant to indicate a cry of defeat, loss, pain. That would be consistent with Jesus crying out with a loud voice only moments earlier deploring the fact that even God had forsaken him.

    3. quote:
      Luke’s gospel changes Mark’s narrative here, however.
      And when Jesus had cried [phoneo - spoke] out with a loud voice, he said, “Father, into your hands I comment my spirit.” And having said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)
      Luke’s Jesus did not weakly aphiemi (depart) with a loud voice, but more positively “spoke” or “cried out” (phoneo) with a loud voice. And far from being an utterance of despair or defeat, the voice conveyed a calm controlled peace at the moment of death: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
      We know that this author was re-writing Mark’s Jesus here quite consciously and deliberately. The author of Luke’s gospel was portraying a very different Jesus from Mark’s. Luke’s Jesus was at no point in despair on the cross. He nowhere utters the famous cry of dereliction from the 22nd Psalm. Instead, he tries to refocus those mourning for him on his way to his death:
      Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me . . . (Luke 23:28)
      He calls upon God to forgive his executioners:
      Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” . . . (Luke 23:34)
      And settles a dispute among arguing thieves crucified with him by promising heavenly favours for the one on his side:
      And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
      So when Jesus cries out at the end, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit”, he is clearly intending to recast what was a cry of defeat in Mark’s gospel into a cry of supreme control of the situation.
      If we interpret the loud cry of Jesus at his dying moment in Luke’s gospel from the context of Luke’s gospel, we find that it has been given a meaning completely different from the one found in Mark’s gospel.
      Absent from Luke’s gospel are also those other Markan comparisons of the spirit entering/possessing/exiting Jesus’ body with unclean spirits doing likewise. Luke even changes Mark’s first exorcism scene to remove the demon’s loud voice from the moment of his expulsion, shifting it to his initial recognition of Jesus

      end quote

      so the point was that if christians can change the stories about HOW jesus died, then christian aplogists could have changed the story about peter dying as faithful believer in the ressurection. but there is no proof that peter was crucified because of his firm belief in the ressurection.

    4. Dear Anonymous,

      Whew! I hope you were able to copy and paste for that surely would be a pain to type out! Thank you for giving me the quote. It was helpful in understanding where you're coming from.

      Regarding Peter's crucifixion: perhaps he wasn't crucified. I guess I don't think it's really a big deal if he was or wasn't. Was the story about the way Jesus died changed? That is important! But first, I have a couple questions about your quote. Does it sound like the author believes Mark's side of the story is true? Do you?

      To clarify the verification point: Many people (over 500) claimed to see Jesus alive after he was killed and the accounts of the "supposed sightings" were written in a time period where, if it hadn't been true, all of those people could have denied it and even written other accounts with the denial. The credibility of the Gospels would have been completely destroyed and not passed around to early churches. Churches who were, even if it wasn't world-wide, having extremely unpleasant acts done to them because of their refusal to renounce their belief in a resurrected Jesus.

    5. many people claimed to see what exactly? which manuscript can be DATED close to what many people saw? jesus saw MOSES, did jesus speak to a FLESH and bone moses or spirit? or is it possible that the authour created an account that jesus spoke to moses hundreds of years after moses' death? matthew said that dead saints came back to life, jews believed that dead people could appear in other peoples faces. so what is going on? if luke if working with witnesses, then how many of the witnesses were from among the 500? if christians in the east of israel believed that jesus appeared as a ghost and christians in the north of israel believed that jesus appeared as flesh and bone, then would this be "different christs" ? and which christ would the growing church choose?

    6. Can you find outside of pauls letters that the christians in europe went to jerusalem and spoke to atleast 50 eyewitneses who had confirmed pauls claims which he made in europe

    7. Dear Anonymous,

      It sure sounds like you put a lot of thought into this. I wonder, have you made up your mind or are you really searching for answers? My understanding of the Bible is that God's not afraid of questions! If he is who he says he is, then he wouldn't have any reason to be, would he? I guess you could always ask him. (shrug) What could it hurt?

      Outside of Paul's letters? But they are historical documents, why would they not count in considering history?

      You know, I guess I don't really think this is where your rejection of Jesus starts. Forgive me if that sounds rude or presumptuous.

  7. Joseph Smith had already crossed into Iowa and was planning to escape westwards when Mormons from Navoo begged him not to leave. Despite foreseeing that he might be lynched, he returned to Illinois and submitted to arrest in Carthage.

    Is this proof that Smith really believed in the Golden Plates and the Angel Moroni?

    It could be, but it is also possible that Smith decided that maintaining his power and status was worth the risk. If he fled, he would lose everything he had worked for for twenty years. Maybe he just decided to trust to luck (which had served him pretty well up until then.

    Would recanting gave the apostate the opportunity to return to the exact same life? If not, then we cannot say that it was their beliefs that was the sole motivating factor. What would Peter or Paul have had if they recanted?

    1. Dear Vinny,

      I've been given a free rein to respond to your remarks. Tell me, do you know anything about gardening? What about water witching? Treasure hunting? ;-)

      I would like to suggest a few differences to you.

      -Smith was begged to stay where he might be killed.
      -Paul was begged to run away.
      -Smith sought his own glory and said, " I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I..."
      -Paul chides the ones who would proclaim, "I follow Paul" and asks them, "what is Paul?" then calling himself a servant. He says, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power..."
      -Smith was notorious for adding to and changing his "revelation from the angel" - to coincide with his own changing views.
      -Paul said, "EVEN IF WE or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Emphasis mine, for your conveinence!)

      Now, to answer your final question: What would Peter or Paul have had if they recanted? You first should ask what Peter and Paul had when they wouldn't recant! They had rather a lot. Ready for Paul's list?! "We go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world". So, what would they have had if they turned their backs on what caused them to be viewed as dung? How about an easier, more normal life?

  8. Andr3ws,

    You are free to respond or not to other comments on my blog. (Just like they are free to respond to you.) I do not censure; I do not limit to “on-topic.” If two people want to discuss planting petunias under some blog entry regarding Abraham—I am happy to provide a forum for them to do so.

    A difficulty in our discussions; we have very different methodologies. I would not review the historicity of Acts of Peter based upon its doctrine or teachings being consistent or inconsistent with another set of writings. While (perhaps) that information may have a very minor impact, I would be looking at authorship, document dating, genre, use by other authors, impact of other documents, etc.

    I reject the historicity of Acts of Peter because it is 100+ years after the event, written by an unknown author (although Tertullian claims Acts of Paul is a forgery, and if Acts of Peter copied Acts of Paul this does not bode well for the author), contains events unrecorded by other writers referring to Peter’s actions during this time, fits a genre of legendary material, was influenced by the Martyrdom of Polycarp, and other authors writing previously about Peter’s death do not refer to these circumstances, even though it would fit within their intention—i.e. 1 Clement.

    Indeed, a problem we see in historical review of early Christianity is Christian writers rejecting early works NOT based upon accuracy, but upon doctrinal disagreement. Most famously, Eusebius rejecting Papias because of Papias’ millennial view, or Tertullian rejecting Acts of Paul because a woman was performing baptisms.

    You may not accept Acts of Peter because its teachings are inconsistent with the Bible, but my method is so different--what will happen when we discuss a writing where I do find historicity under my method, but you do not because it is inconsistent with the Bible? Or vice versa?

    And I should note even Christians do not stay consistent with the method. For example, the Bible records Peter as having a leadership role in a movement so influential, the very High Priest in Jerusalem is bent on wiping it out, yet conversely want to claim Peter did not gain status by being such a leader? How can both be true? Or that Peter (and the other disciples) were able to cease their life-long occupations and live (Peter even obtains a house!) in another country, away from family, friends and cultural support, yet conversely claim there was no wealth involved in this new movement? How can both be true?

    What I find are Christians embracing an inconsistent approach to allow them to believe what they want. If they want to believe Peter was poor and lowly, they embrace tradition and reject the bible. If they want to disregard works perceived as Gnostic, they embrace the Bible and reject tradition. Indeed, they will apply BOTH approaches in the same writing (such as accepting Papias on Mark & Matthew authorship but reject Papias on Jesus’ sayings and Judas’ death.)

    1. DagoodS,

      Thanks again for taking time to respond!

      Aren't you even curious how "Acts of Peter" contradicts Biblical teachings? (Just kidding!)

      I should very much dislike being inconsistent - though being human (and not a robot as certain highly suspicious sites ask me to disprove), I know I sometimes am. But hopefully I will take steps to mend my errors when they are revealed to me! So, by all means, point them out and I will either elucidate or offer a retraction.

      To deal with the inconsistencies you've mentioned, first I wonder what you mean by "status". Honor? Looked up to? Well-known? I should say Peter was looked up to by some and looked down upon by others. Did you never have a teacher you looked up to? Is a person or group of persons respecting someone a sign that the person being looked up to is out for personal glory and honor? Does respect given mean there was a motive to obtain it?

      Second, as to your questions regarding wealth gained, I would say Peter did receive monetary support in order to live and preach. (Paul, however, supported himself by tent-making.) Was Peter wealthy? Well, I don't reckon having a house means you're rich. And I don't wish homelessness on anyone, so I'm glad there were (and are) kind and generous people who are willing to help when there is a need. Paul wrote that James, Peter and John asked Paul and Barnabas to remember the poor. And Luke wrote there were no needy among them as they shared with everyone in need. (The whole "if you've got two coats share with someone who has none" idea. Almost sounds socialist... Teasing again!) Surely that says something? I find it amazing. To hop down a bunny trail for a moment, I remember hearing that Steve Jobs as a child was disturbed by pictures of starving people in third-world countries. But years later, when he WAS wealthly and able to help, he never gave to charity or used his wealth to help the hungry, the sick or the used and exploited orphans.

      By the way, do you still feel Acts is a book with anti-Jewish bias? Maybe this will help resolve it, "I (Paul) had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews."

  9. Andr3ws,

    The First Century Mediterranean was an honor/shame society. There was quite a bit more in the concept of “honor” or “status” than our society. I strongly recommend Dr. Bruce Malina’s “Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels.”—it explains this honor concept far better than I ever could.

    As for financial gain, again the economic culture is very different than today. Peter could not just list his house in Galilee, sell it, and move to another country and buy another house with the proceeds. Further, if he did receive a house in Jerusalem through contributions, (not to mention food, clothing, etc.) this would be far greater financial status than he had in Galilee.

    Yes, Acts of the Apostles is an anti-Jewish polemic. Notice Luke inserts the Jews instead of foreign governments for Paul’s harassment in Damascus. Every Pauline encounter in the cities (with one exception), the Jews are the bad guys, the Romans the good guys.

  10. DagoodS,

    I have been looking for the mention of Peter's house in Acts. No success so far. Would you give me the reference for that?

    You wished me to note Luke inserts Jews instead of foreign governments for the persecution. I'm perfectly willing to acknowledge the Jews did a lot of harassing (a kind, understated word), but how am I to be sure it was Luke who came up with that and that it should have been recorded as the Roman government? What makes you so certain it is not historical?

    If you read a book about the Civil War in America, written by a white man about the atrocities the whites perpetuated against the black slaves and figuring as the "hero" a white man (say, Abraham Lincoln), is the book anti-Caucasian?

    Are all the comments regarding God's love and plan of salvation for "the nations" to be ignored?

  11. Andr3ws,

    In Galatians 1, Paul refers to abiding with Peter for two weeks. Further, we note in Acts there is an immediate and complete transition from Galilee to Jerusalem including not only Peter, but all the disciples.

    The following arguments support the claim Luke either made up or greatly exaggerated organized Jewish persecution of Christianity:

    1. The genre allowed for it.
    2. There is no conceivable reason Jews would persecute Christians—they had too many other problems, and Christianity was not adversarial to their position.
    3. We see Luke modify other sources he uses (Mark & Matthew)
    4. We see Luke modify other historical chronologies to fit his intention.
    5. It would fit with the political make-up of late first Century, early second century—a time when it would be politically inexpedient to irritate Roman government.

    Anr3ws: Are all the comments regarding God's love and plan of salvation for ‘the nations’ to be ignored?

    Not at all. They demonstrate what the author intended to convey to his recipients. In support of item 5 above—Christianity was focusing on gentiles, not Jews, at the time Acts of Apostles was written.

  12. DagoodS,

    I have questions! You say there is no conceivable reason Jews would persecute Christians. Have you looked into the religious angle of that? In your opinion, based on your studies, what do you think was most important to the Jews? Am I wrong that their lives centered around their God and his law?

    If we are to reject Luke because he modified Mark, do we then accept Mark? But wasn't that the point of Sir William Ramsay's discoveries? That he found Luke's record to be so flawlessly, historically accurate that he became convinced Luke was a first-rate historian and accepted Acts when he had heretofore rejected it?

    Hmmm, could you tell me what you know about the Jews feelings towards other ethnicities?

  13. Andr3ws: “[W]hat do you think was most important to the Jews?”

    Which (presumably first century) Jews? Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Qumran Community, Baptists, Herodians, Samaritans? God-fearers, Hellenized, Galilean, Perean, Judan? Merchants, peasants, converted slaves, land-owners, publicans, workers? Men, women, children, wives, husbands, sons? Kings, tetrarchs, governors, priests, soldiers?

    I fear too many Christians only know their Jewish history through the Bible and Sunday School lessons. A “Jew” was not a one-dimensional monolith that all believed, acted and lived the exact same way. I think Christians believe this and Christianity was so different it stuck out like a wart the size of a tennis ball on the face of Judaism.

    Instead the “Jews” (do you even know the term “Jew” comes from “Judean” or a person from Judea, meaning technically the term itself is excluding Hebrews from Galilee, Perea and other parts of the Roman Empire. In the first century “Judean” did not correlate with “Hebrew.”) were comprised of 1000’s of competing claims, including religious, economic, governmental, and social. Christianity, in the first century, would hardly qualify as a freckle, let alone a wart. Hence there would be no reason to persecute Christians.

    This is like asking, “What is most important to Americans?” or “What are the American feelings toward other ethnicities?” There are far too many various beliefs for a singular answer.

  14. The Reasonable Doubts Podcast went into this subject in depth very recently:

    It's well worth a listen.