Category Jesus

The Star of Bethlehem Documentary – Textual Criticism and Josephus

This is Part 2 of a critical examination of the MMEL hypothesis of the Star of Bethlehem. Go to the index here.

In Part 1 of this critical overview of the Star of Bethlehem film and its version of history (which I have called the MMEL hypothesis), I looked at the reasons scholars can say we know Herod died no later than 4 BCE given the information we have from Josephus as well as what we can connect with other accounts. The information from Josephus seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of a 5/4 BCE date for Herod’s death, which would then contradict the time frame needed for the conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus as the MMEL hypothesis requires. However, there is another argument that is focused on, though not detailed, in the documentary, and it concerns the text that we have of Josephus.

The Star of Bethlehem in the Blogosphere

In my last post I looked at what I could find in the news or related to articles and books on the subject of the Star of Bethlehem. There wasn’t too much going on there, so now I want to explore what is going on in the world of blogs. I think this is showing where the conversations are really moving to rather than in newspapers and journal articles, at least for things not done in a strictly academic fashion.

Did Jesus Exist?: An Historicist Defense of Mythicist Intelligence

There’s this damned of all sayings—‘a jack of all trades, the master of none’—which haunts me. It presents itself to me in moments of existential crisis. When I consider how so many fields feed into one another, I want to own them all; be the expert in philosophy, science, mathematics, history, theology, biblical exegesis, etc. But is it possible or even reasonable to assume that one can become at the least, say, ‘a master of most trades, a jack of few?’

The Puzzling Figure of Jesus – Man, Myth, Messiah? Our very own Aaron Adair on Jesus.

Recently for my local Secular Student Alliance (SSA) group I gave a talk about what we can know about the historical Jesus, and perhaps he was originally a non-historical figure made flesh. This proposition is not the least bit popular among academics, let alone Evangelicals, but it isn’t necessarily crazy either. You will find some comparing it to Holocaust denial or creationism, but the evidence that Jesus existed is nowhere near as strong as it is for evolution or the Nazi-led Holocaust. There is significant evidence for Jesus, prima facie, but things get hairy when you look again.

Why was Jesus’ tomb not venerated?

Thinking about the tomb, in the context of the last post, it is incredibly suspect that the place of the greatest spiritual and religious significance in the whole world seems not to have been venerated at least not until the 4th century CE onwards). This then prompts these questions:

Whether supernatural or not, extraordinary claims DO require extraordinary evidence – a naturalistic parallel to the Gospels

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A Jewish preacher being the human incarnation of an all-powerful being, dying on a cross and being resurrected from the dead, is probably one of the most extraordinary claims ever made. But a collection of ancient documents like the Gospels is everything but extraordinary evidence.

In my opinion, documents like the gospels could never be sufficient to establish such an extraordinary claim beyond reasonable doubt. And this has nothing to do with a “bias towards naturalism”. I also don´t believe extraordinary claims which do not violate the laws of nature in any way, simply because an ancient document claims they happened.

Matthew and the guards at the tomb

In this post, I am going to look at the resurrection account given by Matthew, in particular his addition found in no other Gospel account, that there were guards stationed at the tomb.

According to Matthew, the chief priests were worried that the disciples might steal Jesus’ body to fake a resurrection, so they went to Pilate and got permission to post a guard on the tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead, the guards reported it to the priests, and the priests bribed them to claim that disciples stole the body while they were asleep. Matthew claims that “to this day” Jews report the body as stolen (as opposed to resurrected).

Heads You Win, Tails I Lose #1

When thinking about subjects like the fine-tuning argument it becomes apparent that the theist loves to have their cake and eat it. They thrive off a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.

What I mean by this can be exemplified as follows:

In the fine-tuning argument when a skeptic argues:

The universe is more fine-tuned for death than life. The size of the universe is so unbelievably and unnecessarily massive that it appears that it is not designed for human life.