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The Message of Jesus’ Miracles

I have been talking about the stories of Jesus’ miracles, and am raising the question of whether they necessarily go all the way back to Jesus’ lifetime, as tales told while he was still living.  I pick up where I left off last time, after showing that Jesus’ miracle-working abilities increased with the passing of time.

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Not only does Jesus become increasingly miraculous with the passing of time, these miracles are all told in order to make a point.   The stories about Jesus as the miraculous Wunderkind reveal that he really was the Son of God endowed with supernatural power straight from the womb; as a five-year old he was already the Lord of life and death; as the resurrected savior he was manifestly a superhuman being of giant proportions.   In more general terms, the miracles in our later accounts repeatedly show that Jesus was the spectacular Son of God.  He was far superior to all his enemies (even if these were only the aggravating kids down the street).  He was more powerful than nature itself.

I should stress, though, that these same theological lessons can also be drawn from the canonical accounts.  The authors of these accounts, as well as the storytellers who gave them their material, were all, to a person, believing Christians who understood Jesus to be the powerful Son of God who was superior to all things on earth, superior to his earthly opponents, superior to pain and suffering, superior to all bodily ailments, superior to the devil and his demons, superior to nature, and superior to death itself.  The stories of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels are not disinterested accounts of what happened in Galilee, told for antiquarian interests by those who wanted to provide an objective overview of events in an outpost of imperial Rome.   The stories were being told – always were being told – in order to convince people that Jesus was the Son of God.

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Was Jesus Thought To Be a Miracle Worker in His Own Lifetime?
Is There Sarcasm in the New Testament?

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    snf7893  August 7, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Not a question, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you so much for writing on this blog, and being as active as you are. You are helping me learn so much about early Christianity and historical Jesus. I am a huge fan. I live currently in the Midwest (although I’m from the east coast). I would love to meet you one day, I have so many questions. Maybe in the future you can give a lecture or participate in a debate at a university in the Midwest:) again, thank you thank you.

    2
    • Bart
      Bart  August 8, 2018

      You’re welcome! (I’m the opposite: from the Midwest and now in the East)

      3
  2. Avatar
    godspell  August 7, 2018

    Matthew’s explanation has never made any sense to me, even on its own terms. Obviously others have driven out demons in the past–Jesus says as much. His communication with John seems tacked on. John knows very well who Jesus is. Matthew has John earlier claiming Jesus should be baptizing him instead, and Jesus basically says “Well, let’s have you baptize me anyway, just a formality, keeping up appearances and all.” (Since when did Jesus ever care about such things?) There might well have been some dissension between them, since Jesus set up shop on his own, but I don’t get the feeling there was any real sense of rivalry there. That probably didn’t happen until after both were dead. Dueling messiahs.

    I assume we’re going down the list of the gospels here, how each author interprets and uses and elaborates on the miracles. Looking forward to that, but to me, it seems quite obvious what Jesus thought his miracles meant. They meant that anyone with sufficient faith could do the same.

    With miracles, there’s a pretty clear difference between attempting and succeeding. We know Jesus sometimes couldn’t do miracles even in the eyes of himself and his disciples–in Nazareth, for example. Because nobody there believed in him as anything other than Joseph and Mary’s son. Whatever spell he cast with his personality was not going to work there.

    Jesus must have had failures away from Nazareth as well, and seems reasonable to assume they outnumbered the perceived successes, but there would have been some perceived successes. And as his reputation grew, there’d be more, because that’s how faith healing works, if you want to say it does.

    He’d assume his failures were caused by insufficient faith on his own part, and on the part of those around him. “Why do you call me good?” If he was truly good, would go the reasoning, he could move mountains–or make the Romans go home. Or make the Son of Man finally come to institute the Kingdom. He could do anything at all. And so could anyone else. That’s what it means.

    So he’s pleased a man claims to cast out demons in his name. He’s pleased pagans come to him for help. It’s catching on.

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  3. Avatar
    JohnKesler  August 7, 2018

    I hope that you can clarify something. Above, you say this: “The stories of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels are not disinterested accounts of what happened in Galilee, told for antiquarian interests by those who wanted to provide an objective overview of events in an outpost of imperial Rome. The stories were being told – always were being told – in order to convince people that Jesus was the Son of God.”

    So the stories of Jesus’ miracles were to convince people that Jesus was the son of God. But in a comment July 10th, for your entry “Are the Gospels Principally Concerned to Show What Actually Happened?” you said this: “I don’t think the Gospels were ever used for missionary purposes. At least we have zero record that they were used to try to convert others. They were written as in-house literature for believers.”

    If the stories of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels were used to “convince people that Jesus was the Son of God,” how can it be said that the Gospels were not used for “missionary purposes”?

    5
    • Bart
      Bart  August 8, 2018

      Yes, I can see the confusion. In the first statement I was talking about stories in oral circulation prior to the writing of the Gospels, told both to ocnvince outsiders that Jesus was the Son of God and to reconfirm the faith of insiders so they too could continue to believe and persuade others to do so. In the second statement I was referring to the written texts of the Gospels, which were produced as in-house literature for believers.

      2
  4. Avatar
    prestonp  August 7, 2018

    He was the kingdom and those who believed in him had that same kingdom within themselves. Out of his inner most being shall flow rivers of living water, by this he meant the Holy Spirit. That’s why he was your model of selfless love and why you wanted to imitate Him. He lived inside you. His kingdom was in you. You ate meals together. That’s why you were one with the universe, it was your kingdom too, joint heirs with Jesus.

    I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me

    I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME
    Out of his inner most being shall flow rivers of living water, the Spirit of God Himself.
    i am the vine you are the branches, you can’t live for me without being in me and I in you.

    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

    The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ —co-heirs of His kingdom. His kids!

    With the bias of an agnostic/atheist, of course you understand the gospel incorrectly. When you were open and prayed for Him to come into your life, He did and you couldn’t help but see its truths in the proper light. The light children see so easily!

    Jesus wept.

    The timing of His Second Coming was not something He was overly concerned we should be able to pinpoint. Rather, He wanted/wants us to be ready. As a thief in the night, in a twinkling of an eye, His second advent will come. Be prepared! is His emphasis.

    We don’t know when He will reappear in all His glory. It could be before I press enter or not for 63,912 years. Until then, He gave Himself through His Spirit. “You are the God of everything. He’s inside you and me.” Ian Anderson

    3
    • Bart
      Bart  August 8, 2018

      This blog is principally focused on historical issues connected with early Christianity. Do you have any interests along those lines?

      21
      • Avatar
        prestonp  August 8, 2018

        Bart August 8, 2018
        This blog is principally focused on historical issues connected with early Christianity. Do you have any interests along those lines?

        You believe early Christians tried to advance their Christian Agenda through alterations they made to the N.T. You write about that here and acknowledge that you are an agnostic/atheist.

        I believe you misinterpret what was done to the N.T. by those you accuse of pushing their C.A. I believe you misunderstand the N.T.

        I long to learn more about Christianity as it unfolded with the screaming sounds of pain as Jesus’ mom labored to give birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I can barely imagine what it must have been like to see God in the flesh, especially when He was so small i could have held him in one hand. One hand. I could have held God as a tiny helpless baby boy.

        I pretend to drift back through the fog of history, to try to find Him, to picture him as he is sitting down on a hillside with a beautiful view, gazing at all he’d made, rhythmically breathing in the fragrance of arid desert air, the sun slowly setting in all its piercing, exquisite splendor. Quiet, content, relaxing after working hard physically all day in great heat, cooling off, I try to catch his profile with sweat glistening on his face, to see his silhouette, the shadow of God himself, the one who simply spoke and nudged the earth to start spinning and looping around a star 90 million miles from home. I see his eyes embrace the beauty as the stars softly appear until the evening sky darkens in a dazzling array, a sea of diamonds surrounds him, as he leans back and wonders at the wonders of all he made.

        I hide and watch him walking and greeting children and listen for his voice as he looks at crowds, trying to convince them that the meek shall inherit this earth. that they are the salt of earth, not the big shots.
        I want to know all about everything He was, and said, where He went, whom He loved, what He was really like. I long to be with Him, just to be with Him

        2
        • Bart
          Bart  August 10, 2018

          You may be right, but Metzger really liked my book Misquoting Jesus where I discussed the matter.

          4
      • Avatar
        prestonp  August 9, 2018

        Previously, i asked if metzger was a textual critic only or was he an historian, as well? is that question out of bounds because i received no answer. Asking again now i’ve used 2/3 of my allotted opportunities over 24 hours to get an answer.

        I notice that other’s comments to me, to you and others often don’t seem to be focused entirely on historical issues about early Christianity alone, and that you don’t challenge their responses or statements or questions. I have said several times that early Christianity is a very important topic to me. Very important. I’m scouring material and listening to lectures and debates most of my free time and I’ve been a student of the N.T. for many years.

        Frankly, I believe you make a myriad of errors as you analyze that time frame and what was recorded and how information about Jesus in the N.T. should be understood. Your biases are so strong that you’ve ended up miles and miles off course. I try to demonstrate that in a number of ways, not to be critical of you as a human being, but rather to open opportunities for dialogue with someone who has poured his life into this field and is now far, far afield.

        I am after truth wherever it leads. So far, I’ve found truth in Him, I really have. I am not ashamed of that. He was there for me when no one else was. He’s my buddy. I don’t believe that is the worst thing that can happen to a person. I believe He can prove Himself to be real to anyone who truly wants to know Him and He is the most incredible Event/Person/God.

        1
        • Bart
          Bart  August 10, 2018

          Yes, he was many things. Philologist, translator, textual critic, historian, and exegete among them. Like many others in the field of New Testament studies, but more remarkable than most.

          2
    • Avatar
      Lilly  August 8, 2018

      I don’t think being an atheist / agnostic also means you are biased . In fact, I think it allows one to better approach the material without any bias at all. And that might be the best asset for any scholar .

      5
  5. Avatar
    fishician  August 7, 2018

    Morton Smith makes a compelling argument for Jesus as a supposed miracle worker (magician) in his book Jesus the Magician. I gather you think his ideas have some merit, since you wrote the foreword for the edition I read! It was interesting to hear him describe the similarities of the Jesus miracle stories to those of pagan magicians of his time.

  6. Avatar
    forthfading  August 7, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Do you think the earliest proclaimers of Jesus’ miracles (disciples, followers) believed they witnessed Jesus performing healings , exorcisms, or similar acts? If Jesus actually did these things supernaturally is one thing, but do you think they actually believed it or simply remembered events through the lens of someone they felt had been resurrected?

    Thanks

  7. Avatar
    Lilly  August 7, 2018

    I wonder how differently Christianity would have evolved if Mark had been the only Gospel in the NT. Would it even be recognizable or consequential to Christians today ? It seems with each successive Gospel, the narrative becomes more embellished with miracles , the affirmation that Christ and God are equal and most importantly the resurrection of Christ becomes fully developed.
    i am not a historian, but it appears that John’s Gospel has become the framework for modern Christianity . Mark is more concerned with projecting Christ as an apocalyptic prophet, preaching the end is eminent and he will become the next Messiah . Not an overly inspiring message to convince people to convert or begin the revolution that became Christianity.

    5
    • Bart
      Bart  August 8, 2018

      Interesting point.

      3
      • Avatar
        Lilly  August 8, 2018

        Mark is my favorite Gospel. It is a compelling , classical story . of a man struggling with his convictions . Before the later Gospels made him a God.

        5
  8. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  August 7, 2018

    I was watching a video from a professor of religious studies on YouTube named LD. Russell from Elon University. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him or not? One of the things he spoke about with religious myths, such as the Miracles of Jesus, was to discover why these religious communities were telling these stories. You site that the stories of miracles were to demonstrate to the community that Jesus was the divine Son of God. I can agree with that.

    Going on that premise, that the reasons the early Christian communities needed to tell these stories of miracles, maybe due to the evolutionary beliefs in the divinity of Jesus; are we also seeing any of Paul’s theology/influence on the development of the miraculous stories? I can envision that as Paul’s teachings of Jesus grew, specifically that he was divine, and became the dominant orthodox beliefs among the early church, that there arose the need for stories to support Paul’s claim of the Divine Jesus. Thus the myths and legends were born and eventually written down in the accepted Gosepls and Protocol-Gospel.

    Is there any evidence of Paul’s influence on the development of miraculous stories?

  9. Avatar
    prestonp  August 7, 2018

    “This does not mean, as it is commonly misinterpreted, that the Kingdom of God is inside each of us.” Bart

    His kingdom is in Christ and all who are being saved.
    When someone receives Jesus Christ as his savior through faith in His atoning sacrifice and shed blood for the forgiveness of his sins, the Holy Spirit of God enters into that person’s life and forms a unique relationship. Every thing becomes new. God Himself takes up residency within that human being. Millions upon millions will tell you that when this happened to them, they knew, they were absolutely positive that Jesus Christ kept His promise and as a result of this personal relationship with Him, God Himself became real.

    The kingdom of God is within each one of us, His kids and when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, He is in our midst.

    Just as Bart warns that the N.T. has been altered and forged by Christians with a Christian Agenda, be on alert, beware: everything Bart writes and believes is in direct opposition to the revelation in the N.T. Bear in mind, every comment, every interpretation, every thing he challenges about the authenticity and accuracy of the N.T. is tainted with his agnostic/atheist agenda.

    He is an outstanding textual critic and historian, He is not a theologian.

    “This appears to be the earliest interpretation of Jesus’ miracles. They are signs that the Kingdom of God will soon arrive.” Bart

    Incorrect. The kingdom was already there. The kingdom would continue to unfold as more people converted, as more people lived as Jesus had lived, washed clean in His blood. Eventually, He would return in the cataclysm.

    “In other words, they coalesce with Jesus’ apocalyptic message.” Bart

    They did not coalesce with anything other than His entire life. His birth was impossibly miraculous and so was His resurrection.

    Additionally. Bart is incorrect as He divides the divinity of Jesus into timetables he believes can be found in the N.T. Jesus was God in Mark, Luke, John and Matt. By definition, God always existed. He did not become God at birth or at baptism and the writers don’t imply that. They knew what God was back then as much as we do. We are discussing Jews, His chosen, historic people.

    P.S. The Parker Solar Probe will orbit the sun at 500,000 mph

    3
    • tompicard
      tompicard  August 8, 2018

      thanks for the valuable info,
      fascinating
      “the Parker Solar Probe traveling 500,000 mph” – Inconceivable

      3
  10. Telling
    Telling  August 8, 2018

    Re: Luke’s “the Kingdom of God ‘is already ‘in your midst’.” It’s best interpretation corresponds to Gospel of Thomas sayings, such as (Scholar’s version):

    #113 ” the Father’s imperial rule is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.”

    #3 “the (Father’s) imperial rule is inside you and outside you.”

    #5 “”Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.”

    #83 “Images are visible to people, but the light within them is hidden in the image of the Father’s light.”

    The idea, common to other religions and mysticism, is not that Jesus has brought the Kingdom to us, rather the Kingdom is forever here, inside and outside of us, and “is in your midst”, but “people don’t see it”. The Jesus teachings fit nicely with this concept. The Church teaches the message of Paul, a “worldly” message easier to follow but is actually silly.

  11. Avatar
    prestonp  August 8, 2018

    See, that’s what i don’t get. how did this apocalyptic, confused, preacher cat get Bart to fall in love with him, dedicate his life to him, devote all his energy, talents, all his research, all his passion to him for at least 10 years of his life? How did he become born-again? Cause he knows that Christ wasn’t god. so, what happened? did Bart have a mental breakdown? was he hallucinating, having visions, taking or being given LSD? mushrooms? was he brainwashed? Bart, were you abducted by martians?

    probably no one is better than Bart at examining raw data, even in other languages, and developing strong, realistic theories about what that data means. But, he’s never explained how he lost control of his thinking, his emotions, his core being and embraced what wasn’t there. how did Bart get snookered? how did he become enthralled with something he swore was really there and he knew really existed, he even worshiped it for years, when all along it was nothing but a total illusion? how?

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    • Avatar
      HenriettePeterson  August 8, 2018

      There are plenty of blogs on this site where he directly or indirectly deals with this issue. I think he simply changed his mind; he came to a conclusion that he was wrong back then based on the evidence he discovered and his life experiences. The trouble with many Christian environments is that there is no space for changing one’s mind; it is considered a failure, backsliding, losing faith. All sorts of emotional manipulative instruments are used to keep people in (fear of everlasting hell being one of the most effective). But there are also people that do not lose their faith in Christ even after discovering all the “anti-inerrant truths” about the Bible, etc. I think there is nothing wrong with either conclusion if one remains honest and seeks he truth.

      1
    • Avatar
      Iskander Robertson  August 8, 2018

      “See, that’s what i don’t get. how did this apocalyptic, confused, preacher cat get Bart to fall in love with him, dedicate his life to him, devote all his energy, talents, all his research, all his passion to him for at least 10 years of his life?”

      why doesn’t prestnop give his heart out to Muhammad ?
      QUOTE :

      Asadullah Ali I mean, let’s be frank here.

      You had a man with little to no education; couldn’t even read or write. A simple man who did business, worked under his wife, and at the age of 40 started his ministry with barely any support or confidence even in himself.

      Then he starts preaching, his followers are almost completely wiped out due to persecution, and he’s targeted for assassination several times. He loses all his major support, then has to migrate to a nearby city which is practically a slum, and still manages to turn that entire region around into a powerhouse nearly overnight.

      Then in his first major battle he’s severely outnumbered and outclassed by the enemy forces, but wins. He has numerous other tribes trying to destroy him, ends up taking a peace treaty that’s not even in his favor, and still manages to overtake Mecca with a massive force and no bloodshed.

      Then he conquers all of Arabia and converts the entire population to Islam — mostly without any need for combat.

      After he dies, his companions then launch expeditions to the North, overcome the two strongest empires the world has ever known in a matter of decades, and establishes one of the largest empires ever known in history — not just rivaling the power and influence of Rome and Persia, but surpassing them.

      All of this came from an uneducated, illiterate 40 year old Bedouin in the desert whom people only knew as a trustworthy and honest individual?

      And you’re telling me this can all easily be explained away?

    • Avatar
      Iskander Robertson  August 8, 2018

      The famous Mu’tazilite scholar Qadi ‘Abdul Jabbar (d. 415 AH) in his book “The Establishment of Proofs for the Prophethood of Our Prophet Mohammed” (تثبيت دلائل نبوة نبينا محمد رسول الله صلوات الله عليه وسلامه) responds to an argument which we still come across quite often today.

      Did the Prophet (peace be upon him) only or mainly attract followers by promising them war booty?

      Qadi ‘Abdul Jabbar said that this is nonsensical. How could one believe that these people chose to unconditionally obey the Prophet and be prepared to fight against their own tribes, parents, brethren, etc. just for the sake of material wealth so easily? Furthermore, if they were only interested in the spoils of war they could have told the Prophet that they themselves have more experience than him in fighting such wars and gaining war booty. In addition, why on earth would they choose the side of the Prophet and sacrifice their women, wine, silk, etc. and adopt a religion which derides the religions of their beloved ancestors for wealth which they could attain by fighting other wars without making such compromises? Why should they risk their lives and be willing to spill their blood for defending such a controversial figure such as the prophet when they don’t’ even believe in him? Moreover, if they didn’t truly believe he was a prophet, what guarantees would they have had that he would even be victorious and fulfill his word of disseminating war booty to them?

      It makes no sense. It makes no sense.

      //////////

      HOW CAN u explain all this away prestnop ?

    • Avatar
      mannix  August 8, 2018

      “…he’s never explained…”

      To the contrary, he’s “explained” numerous times, both in print and even more so in video-taped interviews. Unless I’ve misread and/or heard him incorrectly, his course into agnosticism/atheism has its origins in the theodicy issue. Perhaps you can help him with that.

    • Avatar
      flcombs  August 8, 2018

      No mystery: Apparently he overcame his brainwashing from an early age by studying the facts and evidence. Many are unable to do that and just keep echoing what they were told or hear in church without really thinking about it. There is more knowledge out there than in the cartoon-like pamphlets at the back of the church that many echo.

      Aren’t you just repeating what you have been told from birth?

      1
    • Avatar
      fishician  August 8, 2018

      Many of us fell into that trap through family and cultural influences, and many other factors that often override simple rational thought. It happens in areas other than religion as well.

      2
    • Avatar
      Sabina  August 8, 2018

      How can thousands of people be head-over-heels in love, til death do us part, can’t live without you and
      suing for divorce ten years later? Could it be because they woke up one morning and looked across the breakfast table at the one they had once put up upon a pedestal, invested with superhuman powers, relied upon for there greatest joy and moral uplift and realized, oh, wait on, maybe you’re just an ordinary person, or we’ve grown apart (or grown up!), or maybe I should have been developing more of my own interests, instead of expecting my one true love to provide me with my every joy?
      Why have some Brides of Christ left the Convent? Why do people change careers, move across the globe, convert to Buddhism, renounce political leaders?

    • Avatar
      HawksJ  August 8, 2018

      He was fooled the same way millions of Muslims have been.

      They ‘feel it’ every bit as deeply as you do.

      1
    • Alemin
      Alemin  August 10, 2018

      Perhaps you could look into memetics and how ideas evolve to become more replicable and more survivable. Richard Brodie’s Virus of the Mind is a good into. ‘Jesus’ didn’t get Bart to fall in love with him; the ‘Jesus meme’ did.

  12. Robert
    Robert  August 8, 2018

    “In Mark, Jesus predicts that the end of the age will come in his disciples’ lifetime. People living in Jesus’ day will see the Son of Man coming in power to establish God’s kingdom (Mark 8:38-9:1; 14:62).”

    Now that you agree that Mark was most likely written post 70 CE, after the destruction of the temple, don’t you agree that Mark and his audience surely saw this destruction of the temple as God’s judgment on the Jewish authorities who turned Jesus over to Pilate? In this respect, God’s reign had already begun in the immediate present of Mark’s audience. He still viewed the rest of the end to be approaching fast, of course, but in his view it had already begun. ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων ταῦτα … ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 8, 2018

      “Now” that I agree? I’ve always thought that! They certainly *may* have seen it that way, but I don’t see too many textual indications of it in Mark (as I do in Luke and John, e.g.). They certainly thought that Jesus was the Son of God who knew it was coming, and that it was Jesus who brought reconciliation with God, rather than temple sacrifices. Hence both his claim that the Son of Man could forgive sins (as opposed ot priests in the Temple) and his placement of the tearing of the curtain immediately at Jesus’ death.

      1
  13. Robert
    Robert  August 8, 2018

    ““Now” that I agree? I’ve always thought that! ”

    I thought you used to be on the fence about whether Mark was written post-Temple destruction OR just prior to the destruction of the Temple. No?

    See, for example, here: ” I’m not sure if this is right or not; I have tended to think that Mark’s description of the destruction is so vague that it’s not clear that he knows about it as a past event.”

    https://ehrmanblog.org/dates-of-the-gospels/

    • Bart
      Bart  August 10, 2018

      Not for many years now!

      • Robert
        Robert  August 10, 2018

        “Not for many years now!”

        It’s been a little less than 4 years since you said you had recently changed your mind. For old farts like me and you, that’s barely a long nap.

  14. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  August 9, 2018

    Dale Martin argues, in New Testament History and Literature, that Jesus was opposed to the strict requirements of the Temple system. He generally favored a more relaxed interpretation of the law. (His absolute opposition to divorce was an exception)
    Do you agree?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 10, 2018

      Offhand I can’t think of Jesus commenting on the Temple system as discussed in the Jewish Scriptures. He did object to the selling of animals and moneychangers, but they were not prescribed in the Torah. So I’m not sure about his view of the entire sacrificial system. He nowhere (in anything like his authentic words) condemns it. But he *does* say the Temple will be destroyed. In the surviving texts, he doesn’t actually say why. Is it because Moses’ law was flawed? Seems unlikely. Because it had been corrupted? More likely.

  15. Avatar
    prestonp  August 10, 2018

    “Alemin August 10, 2018
    “Eyewitness Memory Is a Lot More Reliable Than You Think” – I don’t think anyone in the ‘memory’ industry would agree with that.”

    Ask Scientific American. (Just don’t blame me! I can’t read, according to some of Bart’s disciples.)

    We’re encouraged to base our lives on the words spoken by an awesome man. We cannot know what He actually said. Why? Well, obviously no one could possibly remember what it is He said. Except, when it comes to sheer profundity, people remember perfectly. In fact, the writers of the N.T. miraculously recorded all His teachings with great precision.

    The miracles? Well, sorry, that’s a different story (Gospel). See that’s where memory stops working, suddenly. Miraculously it returns in a few minutes. Disappears again when the miraculous rears its ugly head.

    “Lilly August 8, 2018
    I don’t think being an atheist / agnostic also means you are biased . In fact, I think it allows one to better approach the material without any bias at all. And that might be the best asset for any scholar.”

    I don’t believe being a reborn Christian makes one biased. I believe it gives you insights others don’t have.

    “Liam
    I can envision that as Paul’s teachings of Jesus grew, specifically that he was divine, and became the dominant orthodox beliefs among the early church, that there arose the need for stories to support Paul’s claim of the Divine Jesus.”

    When did Paul’s teachings grow? From what to what?

    “Henriette
    I think he simply changed his mind; he came to a conclusion that he was wrong back then based on the evidence he discovered and his life experiences.”

    I understand what you’re saying. What I don’t understand though is what caused him to love Jesus in the first place?

    “Robertson
    why doesn’t prestnop give his heart out to Muhammad?”

    Is he risen from the grave?

    “mannix
    To the contrary, he’s “explained” numerous times, both in print and even more so in video-taped interviews.”

    Why did he love Jesus? become born-again? view the universe differently?–as being one with it? Model his life on His self-giving love? How did Christ become his best friend?

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    • Bart
      Bart  August 12, 2018

      You certainly can read, and should! There is a massive literature on eyewitness testimony and the reliability of memory. I spent almost two years reading nothing else. There are indeed near-consensus opinions on many of the issues, and I”m afraid you’re not representing them.

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      Iskander Robertson  August 17, 2018

      what does “risen” mean? how do you know jesus is “risen” ? you want to trash the struggles and sacrifices of mo , because he didn’t rise? well guess what, according to muslims, muhammad is alive in his grave.

      how does being “risen” mean something is truth or something in falsehood? does not torah say that miracles DO NOT PROVE the truth of someones claim ?????

      does not torah say prophecies does not prove the truth of someones claims ?

      while jesus died, satan was living, does that mean satan was more powerful while jesus was buried ? why did mo’s pals DIE for him and jesus’ pals FORSAKE him and leave him to get crucified ? why was mo more convincing to the Semitic people ?

  16. Avatar
    prestonp  August 14, 2018

    The disciples sang scriptural songs to each other.

    They devoted themselves to studying the word and to preaching it. Already in Acts 2 “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone, and the apostles performed many wonders and signs.”

    We’re not talking about a chance, brief encounter here. These cats lived, ate, slept, walked with, did everything together with Jesus for years. Day in and day out. They were turning their lives over to Someone Who by merely associating with Him could easily get them ostracized, rejected and killed.

    As Jews, they were turning their backs on their sacred, cherished history and culture and their God, in the eyes of most of their peers. The point is simple. They were motivated to remember correctly what they had learned and they dedicated themselves to that end. They devoted themselves to immersing themselves, together, in His words and mission.

    I believe the Jewish people are the brightest, the most talented, the most capable, the best educated (today) and most intellectually gifted of any ethnic, national, cultural, religious group of people ever and I believe they kept careful records. They were not about to “lose Him” to mistakes in transferring information about Who He was, what He said, what He did, why He came, why He died, and that He rose from the grave.

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (The Trinity)

    Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

    “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning

    But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

    When you are brought before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say. For at that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say.”

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