The Missing Messiah

Where's Waldo?
Where's Waldo?

"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" -- Isaiah 43


In Christianity, the Bible is essentially a two-volume text. The first is the Old Testament, where God establishes the rules in an historical narrative centered on the ancient people of Israel. The second is the New Testament, hundreds of years later, where Jesus is introduced as the model of virtue and the means of "salvation."

According to the New Testament, Jesus is God's divine son, and his eternal nature is so taken for granted it is actually given scant particular attention. Still, there are a few specific references, such as in John 1, where it is asserted that "in the beginning was the word...and the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." In Hebrews 1, it is claimed that God has "spoken unto us by his Son...by whom also he made the worlds..."

Jesus also infers his own eternal existence. For example, in John 8, when asked how he could possibly have known Abraham, he declares, "Before Abraham was, I am." Praying in John 17, he asks God to "glorify thou me" with the glory "which I had with thee before the world was."

But there's a problem...

There is not a single specific mention of Jesus ANYWHERE in the OLD Testament. This is no mere oversight, especially given Jesus' supposed eminence in the hierarchy of Heaven and his importance to Christianity.

That's not to say that apologists don't struggle mightily to insert him, wherever and however they can -- usually by trying to connect him to one or more of the various Old Testament prophecies, particularly those of the Jewish messiah. However, "messiah" (anointed one) refers to a position of authority and rule over Israel and Judah (Daniel 9, Jeremiah 23) -- here ON EARTH, not in Heaven!

Furthermore, the prophet Isaiah (in his chapter 11) suggests that the messiah will NOT be of divine origin, declaring that the "spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him" (which can only mean that, up to that point, he is without the spirit, and therefore not divine).

Still, Isaiah's prophecies remain popular among apologists. For example, in chapter 2, he prophesies a "judge among the nations" who will rebuke people into beating their "swords into plowshares" -- phrases routinely associated with Jesus. But Isaiah makes it clear in the preceding verse that he's referring to "the God of Jacob."

Another supposed reference to Jesus is in Isaiah chapter 9, which states that "unto us a child is born" who shall be called the "Prince of Peace." Yet this clearly refers to someone already existing ("a child IS born"..."a son IS given"), and is presented as a prelude to events that will soon occur in Samaria, Syria and Israel (this is common with Isaiah, who routinely uses births to herald his prophecies).

One of the favorites among Christian apologists is the "suffering servant" prophecy in Isaiah 53 -- which doesn't actually refer to Jesus, either, as I explain in my hub, "Isaiah 53: It's Not Who You Think":

http://paladin.hubpages.com/hub/Isaiah-53-Its-Not-Who-You-Think

Another notable favorite is the attempt by the authors of Matthew 1 to try to connect Jesus to the "Immanuel" prophecy in Isaiah 7. Yet there are too many details that simply don't fit, as I demonstrate in my hub, "Immanuel Can't: Another Bogus Biblical Prophecy":

http://paladin.hubpages.com/hub/Immanuel-CANT-Another-Bogus-Biblical-Prophecy

Nowhere In Heaven

In all the Old Testament's dreams and visions of Heaven, there are references only to God, angels and "hosts" of Heaven, and absolutely no mention of a son or equally significant second party -- Jesus or anyone else.

For example, in Genesis 28, when Jacob dreams of a ladder to Heaven, he sees only angels "ascending and descending" on it, and God standing above it. There is no mention of Jesus anywhere.

Throughout the Exodus story Moses converses directly with God a number of times, with no mention of Jesus.

In Exodus 24, the high priests and seventy of Israel's "elders" see God in Heaven, taking note of even the streets "paved of a sapphire stone." Again, there is no mention of Jesus.

In the first and second chapters of Ezekiel, the prophet sees a vision of Heaven, including four-winged, four-faced creatures and even a fiery image of God who speaks to him. But, again, there is no mention of Jesus!

In 1 Kings 22 (and 2 Chronicles 18), Micah sees "the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left," with no mention of Jesus. Contrast this with Stephen's vision in the New Testament (Acts 7), where he looks to Heaven and sees Jesus "standing on the right hand of God." Something's amiss here!

God Alone

Most pointedly, there are specific references in the Old Testament to the singularlity of God (including the quote at the beginning of this hub):

For example, in Deuteronomy 4 Moses declares: "...the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else."

Or in the prayers of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19 (and Isaiah 37): "...thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth..."

Or when God speaks through Isaiah in chapter 44: "... I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself..."

Or in the peoples' praises in Nehemiah 9: "...Thou, even thou, art Lord alone..."

Or in Job's praise of God in Job 9: "...Which alone spreadeth out the heavens..."

Troubling Discrepancies

Despite New Testament suggestions of Jesus' eternal nature, the Old Testament NEVER refers to him by name, nor is he included in any descriptions of Heaven. Despite New Testament assertions that Jesus is God's son, the Old Testament repeatedly declares that God rules creation alone. Despite New Testament authors' numerous attempts to adapt its narrative to fit Old Testament prophecies, each collapses under even minimal scrutiny. Ultimately, such discrepancies should give every honest Christian pause, and should reinforce any skeptic's presumption that the Bible is predominantly a work of fiction.


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Comments 33 comments

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

My goodness! Why aren't the religiously offended group here blasting you for being anti-Christian?

I have one Christian who constantly tells me that I haven't read the bible. Mostly because I refuse to let people copy and paste passages from their current translation of the "bible". I insist that they use their own words. Unfortunately, they have so few and they are all repetitive.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Hehe. Who knows?

Then again, I usually write my hubs for both believers and non-believers:

-- believers, in the hopes that something may plant a seed that may someday prompt them to more objectively examine their beliefs, and

-- non-believers, to offer them some insights on religion and apologetics they may have overlooked or taken for granted.

Thanks for visiting and commenting!


Link10103 profile image

Link10103 2 years ago

There is one hubber who insists the bible was written in code by kabbalists and that any interpretations made without said code are nonsense.

Sounded like another form of apologetics, but i didn't feel too motivated to look it up.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

I haven't heard that one yet, Link, but it sounds very familiar to one of the favorite arguments of Islamic apologists -- that it's impossible to correctly translate the Arabic of the Qur'an.

Therefore, apparently, whenever a sura translation reflects poorly on Islam or the prophet, it's been incorrectly translated -- though that never seems to be the case when it reflects positively on either.

Thanks for visiting and commenting!


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Except that the historicity of the Bible has been validated time and again. Over the years, skeptics have challenged— and continue to challenge— the Bible’s accuracy regarding the names of people, events and places it mentions. Time and again, though, evidence has shown such skepticism to be unwarranted. The Bible record, as such, is wholly factual.

For example, at one time scholars doubted the existence of Assyrian King Sargon, mentioned at Isaiah 20:1. However, in the 1840’s, archaeologists began unearthing the palace of this king. Now, Sargon is one of the best-known Assyrian kings.

Critics questioned the existence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who ordered Jesus’death. (Matthew 27:1, 22-24) But in 1961 a stone bearing Pilate’s name and rank was discovered near the city of Caesarea in Israel.

Before 1993, there was no extra-biblical evidence to support the historicity of David, the brave young shepherd who later became king of Israel. That year, however, archaeologists uncovered in northern Israel a basalt stone, dated to the ninth century B.C.E., that experts say bears the words “House of David” and “king of Israel.”

Until recently, many scholars doubted the accuracy of the Bible’s account of the nation of Edom battling with Israel in the time of David. (2 Samuel 8:13, 14) Edom, they argued, was a simple pastoral society at the time and did not become sufficiently organized or have the might to threaten Israel until much later. However, recent excavations indicate that “Edom was a complex society centuries earlier [than previously thought], as reflected in the Bible,” states an article in the journal Biblical Archaeology Review.

There were many rulers on the world stage during the 16 centuries that the Bible was being written. When the Bible refers to a ruler, it always uses the proper title. For example, it correctly refers to Herod Antipas as “district ruler” and Gallio as “proconsul.” (Luke 3:1; Acts 18:12) Ezra 5:6 refers to Tattenai, the governor of the Persian province “beyond the River,” the Euphrates River. A coin produced in the fourth century B.C.E. contains a similar description, identifying the Persian governor Mazaeus as ruler of the province “Beyond the River.”

Regarding the historical accuracy of the Bible, the October 25, 1999, issue of U.S.News & World Report said: “In extraordinary ways, modern archaeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments— corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel’s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, and the life and times of Jesus.” While faith in the Bible does not hinge on archaeological discoveries, such historical accuracy is what you would expect of a book inspired by God.

Even more staggering, however, is the fact that there’s more historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution. In fact, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is comparable to denying the US declared its independence in 1776 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.

In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.

Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)

These are just a minute sampling from the massive throng of scholars whose research attests the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE http://bit.ly/18UraA6

Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The statement: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as an actual, historical resurrection.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Joseph, you claim that the historicity of the Bible has been "validated time and again." But a few accurate historical references in a text doesn't validate everything else in the text as well.

For example, "War And Peace" -- an infinitely greater work of literature than the Bible -- makes many references to historical events and scenarios that actually occurred or existed. Does that mean that the main characters in the story also actually existed?

And, of course, the Bible makes many historical references that are INACCURATE. For example, if you had bothered to read further in that U.S. News report you cited, you would have found the following paragraph:

"...archaeologists have found no direct evidence to corroborate the biblical story. Inscriptions from ancient Egypt contain no mention of Hebrew slaves, of the plagues that the Bible says preceded their release, or of the destruction of the pharaoh's army during the Israelites' miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. No physical trace has been found of the Israelites' 40-year nomadic sojourn in the Sinai wilderness. There is not even any indication, outside of the Bible, that Moses existed..."

And the author offers no "proof" for its assertion that "key portions" of the Exodus story have been "corroborated. He tries to match up the supposed dates of the Exodus with events for which there is actual evidence, but in the end, the only "evidence" for the actual Exodus he offers is a dubious assertion that people wouldn't just "invent" such stories.

If I recall, the word you prefer to use in such circumstances is... "sloppy."

And, of course, not only does the Bible frequently contradict actual history, it often contradicts ITSELF -- including some contradictions mentioned in this very hub! So how can we even think of accepting it as a reliable account of Jesus' supposed life?

Next, you make the absolutely RIDICULOUS assertion that "there’s more historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution..."

Now that I've finally stopped laughing, I can assure you that not only is there LESS evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, there is NONE! If there is, present it for examination!

In fact, the evidence even for Jesus' existence is so scant that comparing it to the evidence for evolutionary theory is like comparing a glass of water to an ocean. It's that absurd and outrageous.

Next, you offer a list of names of people who support the idea of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. But citing names means nothing. As you might say...

argumentum ab auctoritate.

Finally, you offer a list of supposedly 'rational' arguments as to why the life, death and resurrection of Jesus "far outstrips" alternative explanations for the Jesus myth. But you've overlooked the best, most rational explanation of all:

...that Jesus (assuming he existed) was simply a charismatic preacher who amassed a following, who may or may not have been executed by the Roman government, and whose very HUMAN life provided the foundation for a cult which grew into a religion.

What's interesting to note that, in all your citations and quotes, you haven't contradicted either my main points -- that Jesus is absent from the Old Testament, and that the Old Testament clearly suggests that God rules Heaven and creation ALONE -- or any of my individual specific quotes. NOT ONE.

Even if you were to somehow demonstrate that historical evidence supports the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus, you're still left the task of explaining why the Old Testament DOESN'T!

In the end, if you wish to convince us that Jesus actually existed, and that he was crucified and resurrected, don't offer the opinions and rationalizations of others. Provide actual EVIDENCE! I'm willing to wait...


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

On Atheists Attempting to Disprove the Existence of the Historical Jesus: http://bit.ly/18UraA6


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

i. "the Bible makes many historical references that are INACCURATE."

What evidence do you have that anything recorded in the Bible if flat-out wrong?

ii. "not only does the Bible frequently contradict actual history, it often contradicts ITSELF"

What is your evidence?

iii. "But you've overlooked the best, most rational explanation of all:"

Except that it doesn't work. Remember, first century Christians were persecuted and even murdered for their beliefs. Do you really believe any reasonable person would be willing to sacrifice their life for something they knew was a lie?

iv. "you're still left the task of explaining why the Old Testament DOESN'T!"

Here you go: http://bit.ly/1F1L8EX


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

It's kind of a shame the Bible is taken so seriously by so many people, as a piece of literature it can be a lot of fun and I wonder what my literary opinion of it might be if it weren't soured by having been taught that it was literally the inspired Word of God.

Instead we get folks like Joe here who will defend the indefensible, morally reprehensible and obviously false. I don't blame you Joe, you're fighting the good fight in your own mind I'm sure, but you've got a book that says slavery is okay, you've got a God who has visited war, pestilence, eternal hellfire and the mass cannibalism of children against those who displease him.

The good news is that it's a work of historical fiction and mythtelling, the bad news is you risk going to hell the first time you admit that its historical fiction.

Great hub Paladin, you'd think that Christians would find it a tad more suspicious that Jews don't accept Christ as the Messiah and investigate why, especially since the days of the anti-semitic Christianity are long gone and now its all about kissing Israels backside and supporting them no matter what.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Titen

"Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues 'no air exists' but continues to breathe air while he argues. Now intellectually, atheists continue to breathe - they continue to use reason and draw scientific conclusions [which assumes an orderly universe], to make moral judgments [which assumes absolute values] - but the atheistic view of things would in theory make such 'breathing' impossible. They are breathing God's air all the time they are arguing against him."

- Greg Bahnsen


Link10103 profile image

Link10103 2 years ago

Joseph, do you ever actually say anything in your own words? I could swear that every time I see you comment, you have a quote from someone else or a link to bitly.

Can you show that the air we breathe is not only from God, but the specific God you believe in?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Link

That's a silly question, lol. Of course I've got lots to say but when I come across a succinct thought expressed by someone greater than myself I share it :)

As far as your second question is concerned:

"You are worthy, Jehovah our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.”" - Revelation 4:11


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, Titen!

To be fair to Joseph, much of what he quotes or links to in his comments is from his own compositions on other websites. Still, it is true that the vast majority of his material comes from exterior sources like the Watchtower Society or from the "academic" work of other Jehovah's Witnesses.

As for quotes, they can be a great tool for ACCENTUATING one's own point. The trouble arises when, tempted by the logical fallacy of arguing from authority, external quotes are employed to so great an extent that it becomes a SUBSTITUTE for one's own arguments -- as you can see from Joseph's first post on this hub.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Joseph, you ask for examples from the Bible that are flat-out inaccurate, yet I offered one of the most notorious examples in my comments immediately preceding yours -- the Exodus myth (and there are certainly more). You also ask for evidence that the Bible contradicts itself and, again, I've already offered examples in this hub (if you'd bother to actually read it).

As I've said before, you either have an exceedingly short memory, or you simply ignore those things that contradict or challenge your religious meme. I haven't quite figured out which one applies, though I suspect it's the latter.

As for martyrdom, the particular phrasing of your question renders it moot. Nobody has suggested that people would be willing to die for something they know is a lie. However, they might be willing to die for a powerful delusion they believe is TRUE. In any case, being willing to die for an idea has absolutely NO bearing whatsoever on whether or not the idea is true. It's an absolute non sequitur.

Thanks for providing the link that supposedly explains the link between Jesus and the Old Testament. However, from what I can see in a quick examination, I've already addressed and debunked the vast majority of details offered in the list of citations, in two of my other hubs:

"Isaiah 53: It's Not Who You Think"

http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Isaiah-53-...

and

"Immanuel CAN'T: Another Bogus Biblical Prophecy"

http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Immanuel-C...

The rest are phrases cherry-picked either for their extreme vagueness or wholly out of context. The "30 pieces of silver" quote from Zechariah is a perfect example.

Throughout the Old Testament can be found nearly a HUNDRED mentions of specific quantities of silver -- from "a [one] piece of silver" to a "thousand thousand talents of silver." Yet, from all those various references, the Watchtower Society has selected the one particular quantity (thirty) that matches the amount paid to Judas in the Jesus story.

However, the 30 pieces of silver in Zechariah has nothing to do with any messiah. Rather, it is the amount scornfully chosen for Zechariah by the "flocks" of Judah and Israel for his services as "shepherd," which God immediately commands him to (just as scornfully) toss away to the potter in the temple.

What better example is there of the manner in which apologists cherry-pick items to suit their apologetic meme?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

Delusion you say? Based on what do you dare claim all of us theists are suffering from "a persistent false psychotic belief regarding persons outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary?" Where is your proof that our Creator does not nor cannot exist?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

RE: The Exodus

Argumentum ex silentio. Fischer's "Historians' Fallacies" categorically asserts, "Evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is a contradiction in terms--it is no evidence at all. The nonexistence of an object is established not by nonexistent evidence but by affirmative evidence of the fact that it did not, or could not exist."


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

"The Messiah’s betrayer would receive 30 pieces of silver—the price of a slave! Drawing on Zechariah 11:12, 13, Matthew showed that Jesus was betrayed for such a paltry sum. But why did Matthew say that this had been foretold “through Jeremiah the prophet”?

It appears that Jeremiah, rather than Isaiah, was sometimes placed first in the collection of books called “the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40) Hence, when Matthew here spoke of “Jeremiah,” he was referring to an entire section of Scripture called by the name of its first book. This section of Scripture included Zechariah.

In a similar way, Jesus designated as “Psalms” several Bible books also known as the Writings. Thus, when he said that all things written about him “in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms” had to be fulfilled, he was referring to the prophecies contained in the entire Hebrew Scriptures.—Luke 24:44.

The quotation made by Matthew appears to be drawn principally from Zechariah 11:12, 13, but paraphrased by Matthew and applied to the circumstances fulfilling it, this under inspiration by God’s spirit. As a potter’s field the land would be considered as worn out and of little value, worth only the price of a slave.

Thirty pieces of silver ($66, if shekels) was the price offered. (Mt 26:14, 15) The sum fixed by the religious leaders appears designed to show their contempt of Jesus, viewing him as of little value. According to Exodus 21:32, the price of a slave was 30 shekels. Carrying this forward, for his work as a shepherd of the people, Zechariah was paid “thirty pieces of silver.” Jehovah scorned this as a very meager amount, regarding the wages given to Zechariah as an estimation of how the faithless people viewed God himself. (Zec 11:12, 13) Consequently, in offering just 30 pieces of silver for Jesus, the religious leaders made him out to be of little value. At the same time, though, they were fulfilling Zechariah 11:12, treating Jehovah as of low value by doing this to the representative he had sent to shepherd Israel. Corrupt Judas “consented [to the price], and he began to seek a good opportunity to betray [Jesus] to them without a crowd around.”—Lu 22:6."

http://bit.ly/1qO7kjd

http://bit.ly/1AxxoBS

http://bit.ly/152RR4J

http://bit.ly/1v841D0


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

"They are breathing God's air all the time they are arguing against him"

And yet before your God was even a thought in the minds of men it was Zeus' air we were breathing and before that it was some other set of gods. Also, please don't resort to presuppositionalism, it makes you look foolish especially when it involves quoting someone else.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Titen

I might be mistaken but the ancient Hebrew texts of the Bible - where we discover that only Jehovah God is the Creator - pre-date all Grecian mythos by thousands of years ...


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Joseph, regarding my assertion that belief in God is a delusion -- I confess! It's simply my informed opinion, based upon the utter lack of compelling evidence for the existence of God, and the stubborn determination of people to believe despite that absence of evidence.

As for my reference to Exodus, remember that it was you who, vicariously through the U.S. News commentary, cited 'support' for the Exodus story as evidence for biblical historicity.

I simply pointed out, in reply, that even the commentary you cited acknowledges that the story has no historical support. That's a perfectly reasonable point to make, and constitutes no logical fallacy (however much you try to impress us with its Latin translation).

And let's not forget that the bulk of your "validation" in your initial comments was comprised of the opinions and commentaries of others -- which, hopefully, even YOU can agree doesn't constitute evidence.

As for your New Testament references, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Are you implying that, if the New Testament makes a reference to an Old Testament story -- even if that reference is demonstrably incorrect -- then the story is legitimate?

If I've misunderstood you, please explain.

In any case, I fail to see how it makes any difference. As I already noted, the "thirty pieces of silver" reference selected by the Jehovah's Witnesses (as a supposed Old Testament reference to Jesus) is obviously arbitrary, chosen ONLY because the amount meshes with the New Testament story -- obvious because it has nothing to do with Jesus (as I already demonstrated).

The fact that it is considered a "meager" amount -- or that it represents "contempt" -- has no bearing on the truth or relevance of the reference (it also happens to be the amount to be paid if someone's ox pushes a "manservant" or "maidservant." But that is no more relevant to the Jesus story than the Jeremiah reference).

As I recall, the other "support" offered by the JW was equally lame and weak -- which, judging from other material of theirs that I've read (courtesy of our previous discussions), is quite typical.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

As for the dating of the ancient Hebrew texts of the Bible, you could very well be mistaken, Joseph. In fact, NOBODY knows for certain when the original texts of the Bible were written.

The oldest complete (or near complete) transcriptions of biblical texts that are currently available -- specifically, the Aleppo and Leningrad Codices -- are ALL dated to WELL AFTER the decline and fall of the Greek empire.

Only the Dead Sea Scrolls -- which (with the exception of the Isaiah Scroll) largely amount to only fragments of OT text -- come close to the time of the Greeks, but even those are dated to after the decline of the Greeks. The earliest are dated to the third century BCE, while the rest are dated as late as the first century CE.

As for any biblical text "predating" the Greek empire, one can only speculate.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

@Paladin

"It's simply my informed opinion, based upon the utter lack of compelling evidence for the existence of God, and the stubborn determination of people to believe despite that absence of evidence."

Phew! You had me worried there. For a second I thought you were going to say that your derrogative was based on concrete evidence of God's non-existence ...

(Don't think for a second either that I overlooked your sly equivocation. You quickly went from saying there was no "compelling evidence" to simply "no evidence." All that tells me is that your faith in God's nonexistence is both absonant and unshakable, nothing more ...)

"As for your New Testament references, I'm not sure what you're trying to say."

What I'm saying is that I take the words of these ancient Jews over yours :)

"The oldest complete (or near complete) transcriptions of biblical texts that are currently available "

Argumentum ignoratio elenchi. You do know that the original manuscripts of the Bible were not written on diamonds, right?


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Joseph, you do realize that my earlier references to "evidence" in my comments were in different contexts, don't you? Most were in reply to your assertions regarding that word, in which case, YOU established the context and parameters for use of the word.

Still, to be fair, I HAVE used those two phrases ("evidence" and "compelling" evidence) interchangeably in other contexts -- outside of this particular hub -- so I suppose I'm guilty of that relatively minor offense.

Ultimately, it's my assertion that NONE of the so-called "evidence" thus far presented for God's existence is compelling. Thus, I don't really consider it "evidence" at all. Hence, my interchangeable use of both phrases.

In the end, it's not a matter of equivocating. It's more a matter of not wanting to sound like a broken record by repeating the same phrase over and over.

As for the original biblical manuscripts, the issue isn't whether or not they written on some permanent medium. The issue is whether or not the ONLY copies we currently have are authentic and reliable.

When you say you "take the words of the ancient Jews" over mine, you can't even be certain that the words you know are actually THEIR words. And THAT'S the problem!

The ONLY "original" source you have -- the only source ANYONE currently has -- of what the ancient Hebrews thought and wrote are the Aleppo and Leningrad Codixes and what's left of the Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which are dated well after the events they supposedly describe, and most which have been transcribed from earlier texts or from other languages.

None of this (the potential for transcription or translation errors or opportunistic revisions, given the elapsed time) means definitively that the currently existing biblical manuscripts aren't authentic or reliable. But it's impossible (or at least, unreasonable) for anyone to claim with certainty that they are.

All we can do is reference them as the best source we currently have available -- with the caveat that, in the final analysis, they may not be accurate after all.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Were you aware that there are literally ** thousands ** of ancient Bible manuscripts - in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine - available today in museums the world over? In fact, no other ancient writings are as well attested to as the Bible's. When you compare these manuscripts to modern Bibles it's unmistakable how accurately these render the ancient texts. As such, any fears of tampering or errata are unwarranted.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA Author

Yes, Joseph, but what are the dates of these manuscripts? Are they newer than the three I noted?

If they're newer, how does mentioning them counter my point regarding the possibility of adaptation, revision or interpolation? They would be equally suspect.

If they're older, please provide a name or a link, so I can check them out for myself. I'm always looking to expand my knowledge of such things...


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

The Ketef Hinnom Silver Scrolls have been dated to c. 600 BCE and are the oldest Bible manuscripts yet to be discovered.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 24 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, Joseph. I'll have to research those...


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 24 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

I just did some research on the Silver Scrolls, and this is genuinely fascinating stuff!

The two tiny scrolls (one three inches unrolled, the other two inches), contain a priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, and appear to be dated to the 7th century BCE. While that doesn't exactly prove the existence of the ENTIRE Old Testament at that time, it does at least suggest that SOME of its text existed that far back. That will be handy to remember in the future.

A fascinating piece of biblical trivia -- It took the archeologists THREE YEARS to unroll the larger (3 inch) scroll, and the first word they managed to decipher was the name "YHWH."


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 24 months ago

I'm glad you enjoyed your research so much! :)

I found it equally satisfying to learn that, except for minor inconsequential variances, the text of the Bible has remained unchanged despite all these centuries. I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on the matter :)


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 24 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

I've always loved history, and it's only recently (within the last couple of years) that this has found a practical application in my theological research. Though the perpetual back-and-forth of our discussions and debates sometimes feels like a job, I often find myself enjoying digging through the ancient resources, trying to fit pieces of some puzzle together.

As for the various incarnations of the Bible, I must admit I don't know enough about the seemingly countless iterations that have been produced over the centuries to offer a definitive analysis on how it's changed (or hasn't).

That said, I have noticed various differences from version to version. Some seem more "sanitized" in what seems an attempt to present the characters (most notably, God) in a more positive light. More often than not, however, it seems like the variances are merely a result of differences in translation -- even when scholars are working from the same source! (which, I suppose, is understandable, given the 'flexible' nature of ancient written Hebrew).


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 16 months ago from Orlando Florida

I want to compliment you for a great hub. Christians always say that Jesus came to Earth as a fulfillment of prophecy. You have done a nice job showing that he does not fulfill any OT prophecy. I agree with everything yu say and then add another reason. He is a mythical character and no such man existed. His existance can't be proven one way or the other, but there is a high probability that he did not exist as man or god. I've written a few hubs on that subject and your hub fits in nicely with mine.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 16 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, Catherine!

For everyone who's interested in learning more on this very important topic, please visit Catherine's excellent and informative hubs:

"Jesus Who? The Historical Record Gives No Clue"

https://owlcation.com/humanities/Jesus-Who-The-His...

"The Mythic Origins Of Christianity: True Or False?"

http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Mythic...


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 16 months ago from Orlando Florida

Paladin: Thanks for the shout out.

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