Three Things The Gospel Authors Would Have Never Invented About Jesus

Over the years, one of the common complaints by skeptics of the Gospels is that the Gospel writers supposedly took great liberty to make up or embellish certain parts of their work to make their point. In other words, many parts of the Gospel authors  ‘invented’ or ‘fabricated’ certain aspects of the life of Jesus. Also, the Gospels are supposed to be so biased and given they are written by the ‘insiders’ how can we trust these documents? In response, the more I have studied the Second Temple Jewish period in Jewish history, I have found the exact opposite. Let me offer a few examples:

A Dying Messiah

The crucifixion of Jesus is attested by all four Gospels. Therefore, it passes the test of multiple attestation. It is also one of the earliest proclamations in the early Messianic Movement (see Acts 2:23; 36; 4:10). It is also recorded early in Paul’s writings (1 Cor.15), and by non-Christian authors Josephus, Ant.18:64; Tacitus, Ann.15.44.3. Donald Juel dicusses the challenge of a crucified Messiah:

“The idea of a crucified Messiah is not only unprecedented within Jewish tradition; it is so contrary to the whole notion of a deliver from the line of David, so out of harmony with the constellation of biblical texts we can identify from various Jewish sources that catalyzed around the royal figure later known as the “the Christ” that terms like “scandal” and “foolishness” are the only appropriate responses. Irony is the only means of telling such a story, because it is so counterintuitive.[1]

Even Paul commented about the challenge of proclaiming a dying Messiah to his fellow countrymen:

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (1 Cor.1:21-22)

According to Martin Hengel, “The social stigma and disgrace associated with crucifixion in the Roman world can hardly be overstated.”[2] Roman crucifixion was viewed as a punishment for those a lower status- dangerous criminals, slaves, or anyone who caused a threat to Roman order and authority. Given that Jewish nationalism was quite prevalent in the first century, the Romans also used crucifixion as a means to end the uprising of any revolts. In relation to a crucified Messiah, Jewish people in the first century were familiar with Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

“If a person commits a sin punishable by death and is executed, and you hang the corpse on a tree, his body must not remain all night on the tree; instead you must make certain you bury him that same day, for the one who is left exposed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

The context of this verse is describing the public display of the corpse of an executed criminal. The New Testament writers expanded this theme to include persons who had been crucified. Just look at Paul’s statement in Gal 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE.” Therefore, to say that crucifixion was portrayed in a negative light within Judaism in the first century is an understatement. In other words, anyone who was crucified was assumed not be the Anointed One of God.  Also,  Deut. 21: 22-23 does not really speak directly to the matter of crucifixion, nor of the crucifixion of God’s Anointed One. So this passage could not of generated such a belief.

We must also mention Dialogue with Trypho the Jew:

Justin Martyr, the Palestinian Christian who in his mature years taught and wrote in Rome, tries to make the case that Jesus’ Spirit empowered ministry fulfills Scripture at many points and offers proof that he really is Israel’s Messiah to Trypho the Jew. But Trypho is not persuaded by this argument. He replies:

“It has indeed been proved sufficiently by your Scriptural quotations that it was predicted in the Scriptures that Christ should suffer…But what we want you to prove to us is that he was to be crucified and be subjected to so disgraceful and shameful death…. We find it impossible to think this could be so.”[3]

Just look at some other quotes about the failure of Jesus to meet the messianic credentials is seen in the following statements by the following rabbis:

Jesus mistake was that he thought he would be the Messiah, but when he was hanged his thought was annulled.” (R. Shimon ben Tzemah Duran (1361-1444).

We are obligated to believe that a Jewish man will come who will begin to save Israel and will complete the salvation of Israel in that generation. One who completes the task is the one, while the one who does not complete it in that generation but dies or is broken or is taken captive (Exod 22:9) is not the one and was not sent by God.” (R. Phinehas Elijah Hurwtiz of Vilna (1765-1821), Sefer haberit hashalem (Jerusalem, 1990), 521.[4]

I should note that hyper-skeptic Richard Carrier has attempted to show that it would not be hard to get a dying Messiah story going, but I have responded to that here:

Why invent a Messiah who becomes the Temple in person?

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken” –John 2: 13-22

The Temple was the center of Jewish religious, cultural, political, and economic life. The impact of its destruction can be seen in some of the following comments in Rabbinic tradition:

Since the day that the Temple was destroyed, a wall of iron has intervened between Israel and their Father in Heaven. b. Ber 32b

Since the day when the Temple was destroyed there has never been a perfectly clear sky. b. Ber 59a

Through the crime of bloodshed the Temple was destroyed and the Shechinah departed from Israel. B. Shab 33a

Ever since the day the Temple was destroyed the rains have become irregular. B. Ta’an. 29 a [5]

Forgiving sins was something that was designated for God alone (Exod. 34: 6-7; Neh.9:17; Dan. 9:9) and it was something that was done only in the Temple along with the proper sacrifice. So it can be seen that Jesus acts as if He is the Temple in person. Even in the trial scene in Mark 14:58, it says, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ The Jewish leadership knew that God was the one who was responsible for building the temple (Ex. 15:17; 1 En. 90:28-29).  Jesus is the foundation of the new temple (Jn 7:37-39) and he is the place for worship (Jn. 4:23-24 ). Also, God is the only one that is permitted to announce and threaten the destruction of the temple (Jer. 7:12-13; 26:4-6, 9;1 En.90:28-29).[6] So it is apparent that for the Gospel authors to make up a Messiah who behaves as if He is the physical Temple in person would only make it more difficult to convince a Jewish person about the messiahship of Jesus.This point has been expanded on by N.T. Wright in his book The Challenge of Jesus: See a summary here:

The Son of Man as Lord of the Sabbath

“Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself throughout His ministry. First of all, “Son of Man ” is employed to Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mk. 2:10,28; 10:45; Matt. 13:37); Second, his suffering and resurrection (Mk. 8:31;9:31;10:33); Third, his eschatological function (Mk. 8:38;13:26;14:62; Matt.10:23;13:41;19:28:24:39;25:31).

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” –Matthew 12: 1-8.

Given the Sabbath was and still is the most important observance in Judaism, for the Gospel authors to make any figure as having authority over  the Sabbath would only create another huge stumbling block for Jewish people.

As Ben Witherington III says,

“Now in Jewish theology, God of course was the Creator of the universe who set up the sabbatical pattern in the first place, and rested on the seventh day (see Gen. 1). Since God had created the Sabbath, only God was the Lord thereof. Yet here, Jesus’ claims, as Son of man, to be Lord over the Sabbath, and claims that He can reinterpret the Sabbath to mean, this is the perfect day to give sick people “rest” from their illnesses, even though this activity constitutes work by any Old Testament definition. In other words, as Son of man, Jesus felt He could rewrite the Sabbath rules. Why? Because He was Lord over the Sabbath and its proper observance now that God’s divine saving activity was breaking into human history through Him. “ [7]

Conclusion

I could cite many more examples. But suffice to say, the more we learn about the Second Temple period, it is clear that it would be counterproductive for the Gospel authors to invent a Jesus that would die, replace the Temple, or be the Lord of the Sabbath.


[1] Donald H. Juel, “The Trial and Death of the Historical Jesus” featured in The Quest For Jesus And The Christian Faith: Word &World Supplement Series 3 (St. Paul Minnesota: Word and World Luther Seminary, 1997), 105.

[2] See Martin Hengel: Crucifixion (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977).

[3] Saint Justin Martyr, The Fathers of the Church, trans. Thomas B. Falls (New York: Christian Heritage, Inc., 1949) pg, 208, 291.

[4] David Berger, The Rebbe, The Messiah And The Scandal Of Orthodox Difference, (Portland: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. 2001), 21.

[5] Michael Brown, Messianic Prophecy Objections, vol 4 of Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus(Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2007), 152-161.

[6] Willam Lane Craig,  Reasonable Faith: Third Edition (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008), 307.

[7] Ben Witherington III. Did Jesus Believe He Was The Son of Man. Available at http://www.4truth.net. Did_Jesus_Believe_He_Was_the_Son_of_Man.htm

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Three Things The Gospel Authors Would Have Never Invented About Jesus

Add yours

  1. I think Jesus’ point about David eating the bread of the Presence shows that Jesus was not annulling the Sabbath laws, but rather interpreting them. Did David annul the priestly laws by eating the Bread of the Presence, which, unlike plucking grain by hand, was implicitly prohibited by the written Law (Lev. 24:9)?

    Plucking grain by hand on the Sabbath was not explicitly prohibited by the written Law, so for Jesus to say that it was OK to do does not contradict the Law, nor does it necessarily contradict the Judaism of his day, which was a religion with various sects and halachic opinions about how to keep the Law.

    According to this reasoning, calling himself the “Lord of the Sabbath” meant that he was interpreting the Sabbath law correctly rather than overturning it.

  2. Also, I don’t think Jesus meant he would replace the temple, and neither do the sources quoted support that idea.

    That Jesus both predicted the destruction of the temple (even considering it has never been rebuilt) and forgave a man’s sin does not mean that he meant to replace the temple.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    As far as the temple issue, if we read John’s Gospel, you see that Jesus is the foundation of the new temple (Jn 7:37-39) and he is the place for worship (4:23-24). He does replace the temple as far as there is no need for a physical structure to have atonement for sin.

    As far as the comment about the Lord of the Sabbath issue, I am not sure how much that adds here. I think Witherington’s comment gave a good explanation.

    1. “As far as the temple issue, if we read John’s Gospel, you see that Jesus is the foundation of the new temple (Jn 7:37-39)”

      It seems to me this passage has nothing to do with Jesus replacing the temple.

      “and he is the place for worship (4:23-24).”

      This passage does not say that Jesus is the place of worship in the sense that he will replace the temple. The passage perhaps hints that the temple will be destroyed, but this does not mean that it will be replaced by Jesus.

      “He does replace the temple as far as there is no need for a physical structure to have atonement for sin.”

      A case for this idea can me made using a few texts (e.g. Hebrews) but others plausibly contradict it (Acts 21:24).

      “As far as the comment about the Lord of the Sabbath issue, I am not sure how much that adds here. I think Witherington’s comment gave a good explanation.”

      Witherington says “even though this activity constitutes work by any Old Testament definition.” However, neither healing a man nor plucking a few grains by hand on the Sabbath are explicitly prohibited by any Old Testament definition. Therefore, to do those things was not in contradiction with the written Law, nor did Jesus intend for the Sabbath Law to be annulled by his actions.

  4. Are you Jewish? Your objections sound like what I hear from a Jewish person. Or, are you trying to be a Torah observant Christian? Catholic? If you give a little bit of your background I might know where you are coming from. Right, I don’t think Jesus annul led the Sabbath.

    We see Paul deal with the Sabbath issue as well in Romans/Colossians. But we find rest in Him.

    To be honest, I don’t know why you have such a problem with the Temple issue. One of the key foundational truths of Christian theology is that Jesus is our final atonement. I don’t need a physical structure today to find atonement for sins. If we don’t find final atonement for sins in Christ, where else do we look? If you don’t agree, then I can only suggest getting a good commentary on John and Hebrews. I really like Craig Keener’s double volumes on John.

    And as far as the issues with John 4, etc…you are aware that they worshiped at the Temple, right? Jesus says we must worship him in Spirit and truth. If we go onto read the rest of John we keep seeing the pattern as to how he is the one that is allowing that to become a reality now. I am not against meeting in a physical structure. I still do. But when I say he is replacing the Temple, I mean in the sense that we don’t need a temple for atonement for sin, nor do we HAVE TO meet in the temple. to worship God. Of course, there is no temple today.

    Some more texts: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” ( 1 Cor 6:19 ; see also Rom 12:1-2 ). The believer can be called the temple of God only because Christ himself is the temple and the believer participates in Christ ( 1 Cor 3:9-17 ). If God can dwell in a holy place, by extension, he could dwell in a holy person!

    As faras the purification issue in Acts 21, we don’t have a ton of info on it. But we do know that ceremonial purification did not necessarily involve atonement for sin. A Jewish woman had to be “purified” following the birth of a child (cf. Lev. 12:1ff; Lk. 2:22). But we know having a child is not a sin. Women also had to be purified after their menstrual cycles. So I don’t really see how Paul’s act of “purification,” leads us to personal forgiveness by means of an animal sacrifice. I am aware that Jews who believed in Jesus still went to the Temple after Jesus died before the Temple was destroyed. But Jesus was now the one who allowed them to worship in Spirit and truth. A change had taken place.

    In the end, I think the word “replace” may be the issue here. I will need to maybe reword that.

    1. “Are you Jewish? Your objections sound like what I hear from a Jewish person. Or, are you trying to be a Torah observant Christian? Catholic? If you give a little bit of your background I might know where you are coming from.”

      I grew up Catholic, then was protestant for a few years, Messianic Jewish for a few years, and now a deist/agnostic contemplating liberal Christianity and Reform Judaism.

      “Right, I don’t think Jesus annul led the Sabbath. We see Paul deal with the Sabbath issue as well in Romans/Colossians. But we find rest in Him.”

      Well, to say that Jesus didn’t annul the Sabbath but was rather interpreting the Sabbath Law is to say he was doing what 1st century jewish teachers did. Granted, Jesus went further and said he was the Lord of the Sabbath, which portrays he understands himself to be the Messiah, but this was not against Jewish ideas either, as can be seen in such Jewish teachings about the link between the coming of the Messiah and the great “Sabbath to come”.

      Basically, I don’t think Jesus’ teachings about the Sabbath are all that controversial vis a vis 1st century Judaism.

      What I’m trying to highlight is the distinction between what Jesus allegedly said in the gospels and what later Christians believed and continue to believe about Jesus.

      “To be honest, I don’t know why you have such a problem with the Temple issue. One of the key foundational truths of Christian theology is that Jesus is our final atonement.”

      Of course it’s part of Christian theology, but that’s not to say that Jesus taught, believed, or even originated the idea. Again, that’s the distinction I’m trying to bring out.

      “I don’t need a physical structure today to find atonement for sins. If we don’t find final atonement for sins in Christ, where else do we look? If you don’t agree, then I can only suggest getting a good commentary on John and Hebrews. I really like Craig Keener’s double volumes on John.
      And as far as the issues with John 4, etc…you are aware that they worshiped at the Temple, right? Jesus says we must worship him in Spirit and truth. If we go onto read the rest of John we keep seeing the pattern as to how he is the one that is allowing that to become a reality now. I am not against meeting in a physical structure. I still do. But when I say he is replacing the Temple, I mean in the sense that we don’t need a temple for atonement for sin, nor do we HAVE TO meet in the temple. to worship God. Of course, there is no temple today.”

      There’s nothing in Jesus’ teachings that suggests his disciples have to choose between worshiping at the Temple or “in spirit and in truth”. There’s no contradiction between the two, but rather they compliment each other, as one is a shadow of the other.

      If the temple was never destroyed, early Christians would have continued to worship there.

      I think the reason Christians think the Temple was replaced is because of various Christians doctrines, not because Jesus taught it. So, this idea is the opposite of the point of your article: Jesus disciples wouldn’t make certain stuff up. Well, I think they DID make some stuff up in their later theology. Stuff Jesus never taught, but nonetheless gets attributed to him.

      “Some more texts: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” ( 1 Cor 6:19 ; see also Rom 12:1-2 ). The believer can be called the temple of God only because Christ himself is the temple and the believer participates in Christ ( 1 Cor 3:9-17 ). If God can dwell in a holy place, by extension, he could dwell in a holy person!”

      Fine and good, but even this is not in contradiction with a physical Temple. To say that our bodies are temples for the holy spirit does not mean the Temple was replaced.

      Instead, to say that the Temple was replaced can plausibly be said that God broke His promises, e.g. 2 Chronicles 7:16 – “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

      So, it seems your point was that Jesus; disciples woudn’t have made that up about Jesus, and I’m saying yes you’re right but only because Jesus actually didn’t teach that.

      “As faras the purification issue in Acts 21, we don’t have a ton of info on it. But we do know that ceremonial purification did not necessarily involve atonement for sin. A Jewish woman had to be “purified” following the birth of a child (cf. Lev. 12:1ff; Lk. 2:22). But we know having a child is not a sin. Women also had to be purified after their menstrual cycles. So I don’t really see how Paul’s act of “purification,” leads us to personal forgiveness by means of an animal sacrifice. I am aware that Jews who believed in Jesus still went to the Temple after Jesus died before the Temple was destroyed. But Jesus was now the one who allowed them to worship in Spirit and truth. A change had taken place.
      In the end, I think the word “replace” may be the issue here. I will need to maybe reword that.”

      I don’t think my use of Acts 21 was clear. Basically, I’m showing that being an early disciple of Jesus did not mean one did not participate in the temple services or forsake the Law as it regards animal sacrifices (which was a big part of the purification of Paul and the 4 men).

      So, I’m saying that Jesus’ teachings about the Temple are not all that controversial at all, which goes against what you seemed to be saying in your post.

      Perhaps Jesus’ teachings were innovative and interpretive, but much of 1st century Jewish teaching and legal discourse was innovative and interpretive.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, as time went on later generations of Jesus disciples began to teach that the Sabbath was annulled and the Temple was replaced by Jesus. I’m not arguing with that, but rather that these teachings can be attributed to Jesus.

  5. According to Jewish law, the claim to be the Messiah was not a criminal, nor capital offense. Therefore, the claim to be the Messiah was not even a blasphemous claim. But one of the things that would of constituted blasphemy was to do the things that only the God of Israel could only do (which would be to forgive sins and say he was the performing the same things that could only be done in the Temple.).

    Hence, he is the Temple in person and to say something greater than the Temple is here was controversial and was something that was difficult for the listeners of Jesus. I have studied messianism for nearly 20 years and know there are all kinds of messianic expectations.. But one way or the other, many of the people in the times of Jesus did not understand what He was doing. Also, according to Mark 14:62, Jesus affirmed the chief priest’s question that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world. This was considered a claim for deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 to himself.

    You say ‘There’s nothing in Jesus’ teachings that suggests his disciples have to choose between worshiping at the Temple or “in spirit and in truth”. There’s no contradiction between the two, but rather they complement each other, as one is a shadow of the other.”
    That is basically what I already said.

    But you can’t worship God without the Spirit (at least according to Jesus). So you can go and worship in a physical structure all you want, but without the Holy Spirit, it is not true worship, but dead religion. I have been there. However, I don’t HAVE to go to a physical structure to worship God.

    “If the temple was never destroyed, early Christians would have continued to worship there.”

    Maybe, maybe not. They may have just met in homes like we see in Acts.

    I already said the word you are struggling with is the word “replace,”… I went ahead and reworded it. My point is that Jesus was acting like the Temple in person. So in one sense, he is making something new. And yes, that was hard to accept. I already talked about the blasphemy charge.

    So I don’t think we need to keep going over that.

    You bring up the purification issue again in Acts 21. If you can give me concrete evidence that Paul and others went through the animal sacrifices in that passage as part of purification, then please give me your source. Otherwise, you are jsut giving me an assertion. But as far as we can see, there is not enough info to know the various steps in the ceremony as described in the passage. Even if he did participate in some sort of atonement ceremony, it could be that Paul was trying to be all things to all men, if by any means save some of them (1 Cor. 9. 9:19-23).

    2 Chronicles 7:16 – “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

    You are ignoring progressive revelation. Go on to read the passage in context and all the passages in the Bible about the Temple.

    You seem to keep saying these things were written later, later, etc… We have enough posts on the dating and the reliability of the Gospels under the articles section. Also, as I said in another post.
    Jesus taught in poetic form, employing alliteration, paronomasia, assonance, parallelism, and rhyme. Since over 90 percent of Jesus’ teaching was poetic, this would make it simple to memorize.

    We see an emphasis on the importance of remembering the words of Jesus:

    •Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. (Matthew 7:24)
    •Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

    •Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Mark 13:31)

    •It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)

    •So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:67-68)

    •Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:10)

    •But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

    •If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

    Conclusion: The first followers of Jesus had a strong motivation to pass on both the actions and sayings of Jesus with considerable accuracy. And we know there was a very early oral tradition. To say many of Jesus’ teachings were written much later and they were not something that Jesus actually said is a fairly old argument. See Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.

    I am not sure what your goals are. Hence, I am not sure if you are searching for answers or just want to defend some sort of “liberal” Christianity. Granted, the word “liberal” is loaded word. So I don’t know what that means to you. All approaches to the historicity of Christ start with presuppositions. And that will determine the outcome. Good luck on your journey. I think Christ can bridge the gap from deism to theism. And if the issue is the reliability of the texts that speak about Jesus, by all means, there are answers to that. But as I said, the question is about what your goals are.

    1. “According to Jewish law, the claim to be the Messiah was not a criminal, nor capital offense. Therefore, the claim to be the Messiah was not even a blasphemous claim. But one of the things that would of constituted blasphemy was to do the things that only the God of Israel could only do (which would be to forgive sins and say he was the performing the same things that could only be done in the Temple.).
      Hence, he is the Temple in person and to say something greater than the Temple is here was controversial and was something that was difficult for the listeners of Jesus.”

      Are you saying that Jesus’ ability to forgive sins means that all the various laws (only some of them were for atonement) about the temple were annulled? It seems you are, and this, I contend, is later Christian theology, not Jesus teaching.

      “I have studied messianism for nearly 20 years and know there are all kinds of messianic expectations.. But one way or the other, many of the people in the times of Jesus did not understand what He was doing. Also, according to Mark 14:62, Jesus affirmed the chief priest’s question that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world. This was considered a claim for deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 to himself.
      You say ‘There’s nothing in Jesus’ teachings that suggests his disciples have to choose between worshiping at the Temple or “in spirit and in truth”. There’s no contradiction between the two, but rather they complement each other, as one is a shadow of the other.”
      That is basically what I already said.”

      Except you seem to be saying that the temple laws were annulled and no longer applicable in Jesus’ mind. My contention is that Jesus did not teach this.

      “But you can’t worship God without the Spirit (at least according to Jesus). So you can go and worship in a physical structure all you want, but without the Holy Spirit, it is not true worship, but dead religion. I have been there. However, I don’t HAVE to go to a physical structure to worship God.”

      According to Christian theology, you’re correct. According to Jesus’ Bible, his religion, and the laws of Moses, one HAD to go to the temple to do certain commandments of God. Jesus that the word of the Lord stands FOREVER.

      “If the temple was never destroyed, early Christians would have continued to worship there.”
      Maybe, maybe not. They may have just met in homes like we see in Acts.”

      They met in homes, yes. This does not mean they didn’t go to the temple and think the laws regarding the temple were done away with. That’s why I brought up Acts 21.

      “I already said the word you are struggling with is the word “replace,”… I went ahead and reworded it. My point is that Jesus was acting like the Temple in person. So in one sense, he is making something new. And yes, that was hard to accept. I already talked about the blasphemy charge.
      So I don’t think we need to keep going over that.”

      Adding something new does not mean doing away with that which was of Old. I’d liken this to your point about progressive revelation.

      “You bring up the purification issue again in Acts 21. If you can give me concrete evidence that Paul and others went through the animal sacrifices in that passage as part of purification, then please give me your source. Otherwise, you are jsut giving me an assertion. But as far as we can see, there is not enough info to know the various steps in the ceremony as described in the passage. Even if he did participate in some sort of atonement ceremony, it could be that Paul was trying to be all things to all men, if by any means save some of them (1 Cor. 9. 9:19-23).”

      It’s actually right in the Bible, Numbers 6. Paul joined with them in their purification, which included SACRIFICES for ATONEMENT (Num 6:11). The APOSTLES told Paul to do this so that Jewish believers wouldn’t believe the false reports about Paul (i.e. that he taught Jewish believers to forsake the Law, circumcision, and Jewish customs <= false reports) but rather so that they knew he was “living in obedience to the Law” (Acts 21:24)

      “2 Chronicles 7:16 – “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”
      You are ignoring progressive revelation. Go on to read the passage in context and all the passages in the Bible about the Temple.”

      Progressive revelation does not necessarily mean that God changes his mind about commandments. Does God break his word about the commandments he previously mandated? According to Christian theology regarding the temple and sabbath, yes. But not according to Jesus.

      “You seem to keep saying these things were written later, later, etc… We have enough posts on the dating and the reliability
      of the Gospels under the articles section. Also, as I said in another post.”

      Well, the Gospel of John was written around 50-60 years after Jesus. That is significant, and most scholars recognize that John has a more “embellished” theology because it was written later.

      “Jesus taught in poetic form, employing alliteration, paronomasia, assonance, parallelism, and rhyme. Since over 90 percent of Jesus’ teaching was poetic, this would make it simple to memorize.
      We see an emphasis on the importance of remembering the words of Jesus:
      •Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. (Matthew 7:24)
      •Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)”

      According to Jesus' Bible, true teachers of God teach obedience to His commandments.

      “•Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Mark 13:31)
      •It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)
      •So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:67-68)
      •Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:10)
      •But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
      •If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
      Conclusion: The first followers of Jesus had a strong motivation to pass on both the actions and sayings of Jesus with considerable accuracy. And we know there was a very early oral tradition. To say many of Jesus’ teachings were written much later and they were not something that Jesus actually said is a fairly old argument. See Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.
      I am not sure what your goals are. Hence, I am not sure if you are searching for answers or just want to defend some sort of “liberal” Christianity.”

      My goal is truth. That is first, then my Christianity (however liberal it may be). I am NOT a Christian first, with truth second.

      “Granted, the word “liberal” is loaded word. So I don’t know what that means to you. All approaches to the historicity of Christ start with presuppositions. And that will determine the outcome. Good luck on your journey. I think Christ can bridge the gap from deism to theism. And if the issue is the reliability of the texts that speak about Jesus, by all means, there are answers to that. But as I said, the question is about what your goals are.”

      Thanks. I know there are lots of opinions out there. And scholars on every side of the debate. The hard part is choosing whose answers are the most correct.

  6. Just wondering: Where are you getting your info from? Are you looking at some skeptic’s website? Because I find the majority of skeptics websites show very little if any understanding of biblical hermeneutics.

    You really seem to still not do understand my points. And yes, you need a very good commentary on Hebrews. I am saying Jesus as the Temple in person has done away with any further sacrifice for atonement. Have you ever studied Hebrews in great length? Jesus as mediator of the new covenant was superior to the Aaronic high priests, the mediators of the first covenant; likewise, as the better sacrifice, Jesus truly expiated guilt unlike the blood of animals. The focus of the letter is on the forgiveness of sins promised in the new covenant; the author’s purpose is to prove that the levitical sacrificial system, the means of obtaining forgiveness in the first covenant, has been rendered obsolete and will soon disappear. Jesus’ blood is said to be the blood of the covenant parallel to the blood of the first covenant in Exodus 24:8. You can do some study on Hebrews at Bible.org
    http://bible.org/passage/325/Hebrews

    “Are you saying that Jesus’ ability to forgive sins means that all the various laws (only some of them were for atonement) about the temple were annulled? It seems you are, and this, I contend, is later Christian theology, not Jesus teaching.”

    Jesus made statements about how he is the Temple in person is in John. Is that what you consider later Christian theology? If you want evidence for the reliability of John, I can provide it. But you seem to be assuming that the Gospel authors seem to be placing all kinds of things on the lips of Jesus that he never said. I already pointed out in the last comments their commitment to preserve his words. Also, remember, the earliest records we have for Jesus are Paul’s Letters (40-60 ad). Remember, Jesus was crucified in 33 ad or so. (see more below)

    You say ‘They met in homes, yes. This does not mean they didn’t go to the temple and think the laws regarding the temple were done away with. That’s why I brought up Acts 21.”

    You can keep bringing this again. I said I know they still went to the Temple. It was part of Jewish life. It was an integral part of their culture. But I said in my original post, that Jesus as the Temple in person was bringing something very new by allowing himself to offer atonement in person. They did not have to go in the temple to get it because He as the Messiah had come. And we just don’t have enough evidence that any of the early Jewish believers went to the Temple to receive atonement for sins after Jesus was resurrected. Does this mean they never went to the Temple? No, I never said that. Read Acts. So I am going to lay this part to rest now.

    You say,
    “Adding something new does not mean doing away with that which was of Old. I’d liken this to your point about progressive revelation.”

    Let’s just skip this. I don’t think you understood my point.

    “Progressive revelation does not necessarily mean that God changes his mind about commandments. Does God break his word about the commandments he previously mandated? According to Christian theology regarding the temple and sabbath, yes. But not according to Jesus.”

    Progressive revelation means that God does not reveal everything at once. If you understand God’s promise of a New Covenant than you will see what I am talking about. I wrote about it here:
    A Look at Messianic Prophecy and the Promise of The New Covenant https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/a-look-at-messianic-prophecy-and-the-promise-of-the-new-covenant/

    You seem to be struggling over the relationship between both Testaments. And to understand it, you will need a good understanding of hermeneutics. If you skip this, you will keep having a lot of problems. Two resources for you:

    http://www.theologue.org/BibleInterpretation-CKeener.html
    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_law_hays.html

    “It’s actually right in the Bible, Numbers 6. Paul joined with them in their purification, which included SACRIFICES for ATONEMENT (Num 6:11). The APOSTLES told Paul to do this so that Jewish believers wouldn’t believe the false reports about Paul (i.e. that he taught Jewish believers to forsake the Law, circumcision, and Jewish customs <= false reports) but rather so that they knew he was “living in obedience to the Law” (Acts 21:24)”
    Acts 21: 26: The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

    So even if Paul did go through some of atonement process (which is still not conclusive), as I said, it is probably a case of Paul was trying to be all things to all men, if by any means save some of them (1 Cor. 9. 9:19-23). That is the conclusion of many scholars. What if I went to a synagogue in the fall for Yom Kippur? If I went through the service would be saying I don’t think Jesus is my atonement? No, not at all. Maybe I might want to identify with the Jewish people. Paul says later on that he did not violate his conscience (Acts 23:1). And by this point, Paul had already authored many Epistles that disuss how Jesus is the final sacrifice. In the end, this is a case of splitting hairs.

    “Well, the Gospel of John was written around 50-60 years after Jesus. That is significant, and most scholars recognize that John has a more “embellished” theology because it was written later.”

    Be careful when you say “most scholars say”….. you mean scholars who have a set of presuppositions when they approach the Bible. All scholars do! If John is so embellished please answer why there is so much external data for its reliability. See 59 Confirmed or Historically Probable Facts in the Gospel of John: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/59-confirmed-or-historically-probable-facts-in-the-gospel-of-john/

    Also, even if the Gospels were written 30-60, or 30 years after Jesus, it would not make that big a difference because people can remember high impact events with great accuracy and there is an entire oral layer/oral tradition in place long before a written tradition. There are some strong arguments that all four Gospels could have been written before 70 ad.

    Also, remember, the earliest records we have for Jesus are Paul’s Letters (40-60 ad). Remember, Jesus was crucified in 33 ad or so. See out post here: From Jesus to Us: A Look at P.O.W.E.R. https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/from-jesus-to-us-a-look-at-p-o-w-e-r/
    Also, see:
    What Can Paul Tell Us About Jesus? https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/what-can-paul-tell-us-about-jesus/
    On the authorship of the fourth Gospel: A letter to a young enquirer
    Dr. Tim McGrew Lectures on Alleged Historical Errors in the Gospels of Luke and John: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/dr-tim-mcgrew-lectures-on-alleged-historical-errors-in-the-gospels-of-luke-john/
    External Evidences for the Truth of the Gospels by Dr. Timothy McGrew at https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/external-evidences-for-the-truth-of-the-gospels-by-dr-timothy-mcgrew/
    The Historical Reliability of John: Craig Blomberg: http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952783
    The Historical Reliability of the Gospels By Craig L. Blomberg
    http://www.4truth.net/fourtruthpbbible.aspx?pageid=8589952775
    The Earliest Record of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus-1 Corinthians 15:3-7: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/can-we-trust-eyewitness-testimony-resurrection-reported-early/

    “My goal is truth. That is first, then my Christianity (however liberal it may be). I am NOT a Christian first, with truth second.”

    Okay, are you sure you are not confusing truth with having absolute certainty? If you want to know if Jesus is really the divine Son of God, then you will have to admit that if He is the Lord, He will ask you to take up your cross and follow him (Luke 9:23). You seem to have a lot of objections that have been around for many decades. And many resources have been provided to answer them. Are you waiting until you have every question answered before you fully commit to Jesus? And who is Jesus? I assume you are smart enough to think he at least was crucified and that his followers thought they saw him rise from the dead. But do you just think he was a prophet? Teacher?

    Also, did you read the resurrection chapter in Blackwell’s? Thoughts?

  7. Btw, as far as the Temple issue N.T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus helps expand on this topic. Notice this summary here:

    One of the major themes that is emerging in N.T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus is the idea that Jesus sought to take on the role of the temple in Jewish life. This was the reason he claimed to be able to forgive sins, spoke of his body as the temple, and overturned the tables in the temple. Some pertinent quotes from Wright:

    “Jesus’ clash with the Pharisees came about not because he was an antinomian or because he believed in justification by faith while they believed in justification by works but because his kingdom-agenda for Israel demanded that Israel leave off her frantic and paranoid self-defense, reinforced as it now was by the ancestral codes, and embrace instead the vocation to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. I therefore propose that the clash between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, especially the Pharisees, must be seen in terms of alternative political agendas generated by alternative eschatological beliefs and expectations. (58)

    His attitude to the Temple was not “this institution needs reforming,” nor “the wrong people are running this place,” nor yet “piety can function elsewhere too.” His deepest belief regarding the temple was eschatological: the time had come for God to judge the entire institution. It had come to symbolize the injustice that characterized the society on the inside and on the outside, the rejection of the vocation to be the light of the world, the city set on a hill that would draw to itself all the peoples of the world. (64)

    …Jesus acted and spoke as if he was in some sense called to do and be what the Temple was and did. His offer of forgiveness, with no prior condition of Temple-worship or sacrifice, was the equivalent of someone in our world offering as a private individual to issue someone else a passport or a driver’s license. He was undercutting the official system and claiming by implication to be establishing a new one in its place. (65)

    To see more, look here: http://opensourcetheology.net/node/244?vm=r&s=1

    1. Hey, I’ll grant you that Jesus saying he could forgive sins was controversial. Some good points by N.T Wright. And, it seems to be something that Jesus really taught. So, I take your point. And it seems you (kinda) got my point, that Jesus did not intend to do away with the Temple or ANY of the laws regarding it, because you changed the word “replaced” in your post. But I still think you hold that Jesus intended to do away with many laws of the Torah rather than just add some new, e.g. Jesus can forgive sins.

      Speaking of forgiveness, but forgive me for not looking at your sources (though I had already started looking at McGrew’s stuff), I feel comfortable enough in my understanding of evangelical doctrine and hermeneutics, and I think they both lead Christians to erroneously conclude that Jesus did away with the Temple and Sabbath laws due to books like Hebrews and misunderstanding the Gospel quotes of Jesus that you have cited.

      My point about Acts 21 is contrary to christian doctrine and hermeneutics, but it is correct. Paul was not trying to be all things to all men. How do I know? Because it says right in Acts. Paul did it so that “everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are LIVING IN OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW.” This explicitly contradicts evangelical hermeneutics. Paul never taught Jewish believers “to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.” He did the opposite: teaching them to keep the Law – all of the Law – because none of it had been done away with, not even the relatively insignificant purification sacrifices of Numbers chapter 6.

      What if you went to Yom Kippur? Well, I’m guessing you’re a gentile. Paul was not. Gentiles don’t have to keep the Law. So, if you went to Yom Kippur, it would be fine but not required. If a Jew broke a commandment of the Law, however, they would be sinning. This is Jesus teaching. And my prediction is that your objections to this will be from sources other than Jesus. Resist the urge to justify your disagreement by evangelical hermeneutics on Hebrews, Ephesians (one new man, etc.)

      “ people can remember high impact events with great accuracy” I’m fairly certain this is not true. Science is not on your side here.

      I’ve read Blackwell’s chapter on the Resurrection, but it was a while ago. I’ll let you know my thoughts should I read it again and remember to tell you.

      Thanks for the chat, I hope you think about my explanation of Acts 21. Read it from outside your Christianity and it will become more clear.

  8. Just thought of one thing: Maybe Paul was being “all things to all people” in that he was pretending to be a Torah keeper to the other Apostles that told him to go through with the ritual.

    This interpretation situates those other Apostles as the Torah Keepers and Paul as the pretender.

    Either way you have some Apostles keeping the Torah out of obedience, not in order to be all things to all men.

  9. My initial post has nothing to do with whether Jesus or Paul annulled the Torah.
    The Temple comment had nothing to do with that. You are reading something into the post that is not there and then saying comments about Jesus are incorrect (which they are not). And as I will say again, read Hebrews. No Christian (at least me), do not need a physical Temple to attain atonement from sins.

    You always need to look at the context of where Paul is talking about the Torah. In some cases, he uses it in a positive sense while in others he discusses the negative aspects of it. But CONTEXT IS KEY!

    Another context issue: In Acts 21, Paul had been so successful in reaching Gentiles with the Gospel, that accusations arose that he taught “all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to their customs.” (Acts 21:21). But this was a false charge, which is probably why Paul did not hesitate to join in the purification rites in the Temple.

    Btw, you say “evangelical hermeneutics” Don’t know what you mean by that. If you want to read put a modern grid on an ancient text, you will keep running into problems. Ben Witherington who says, “Works of ancient history or biography should be judged by their own conventions.”- New Testament History (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2001), 14-28.

    Jewish people that do believe in Jesus sometimes do got the Yom Kippur service. It is out of identification with their people. But none of them are going to attain atonement from sin.

    “ people can remember high impact events with great accuracy” I’m fairly certain this is not true. Science is not on your side here.”

    No, not true at all. How much have you studied oral memory? Have you read the Bauckham book I talked about? Second, if they can’t recall them with accuracy, why do John and Luke mention so many historical details with perfect accuracy?

    See these again:

    84 Confirmed Facts in the Last 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts – https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/84-confirmed-facts-in-the-last-16-chapters-of-the-book-of-acts/
    59 Confirmed or Historically Probable Facts in the Gospel of John: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/59-confirmed-or-historically-probable-facts-in-the-gospel-of-john/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: