The Synoptic Problem, in short, is the attempt to explain the similarities and differences between the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In many places these three gospels are so close in wording, often verbatim stretches of large portions, that common oral tradition cannot account for three separate authors writing independently from one another. So scholars assume some type of literary dependence between the three. The problem we are trying to solve? Who copied from whom? The term “synoptic” comes from the Greek, σύν (syn ”together”) and ὄψις (opsis ”view”) since they can be viewed side-by-side and compared as they contain many of the same stories in a similar chronology. Continue reading
Let’s begin with a bible verse from Hebrew 11:1; “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
I normally find that what atheists mean when we use the term faith is more akin to “blind faith.” On the other hand my Christian friends never mean “blind faith” when they talk about having faith. When, say for example Hebrews 11:1 is invoked, “faith” here means something more like “trusted belief.” I know this sounds like an apologetic, and it might be, but that doesn’t change the reasons why and if we do not make such a distinction we are at risk of equivocating the distinction. Continue reading
Episode 16 of The Skeptics’ Testament available now on iTunes! This episode we take to some questions about the number and verse systems in our modern bibles, anachronisms in the Torah, Christian pacifism and the difference between Homer’s Iliad and Luke’s gospel, as well as our continued study of the gospels with Matthew!
Episode host (direct download): http://podcastlaboratory.libsyn.com/the-skeptics-testament-episode-16
Martin Luther King
We are all familiar with the maxim Christian pacifists wield like a… well, plastic butter knife, “Jesus said turn the other cheek…”, but does this make Jesus a pacifist? This is a point of exegesis, so what is Jesus’ point in Matthew 5:38—42? Given that the context of the passage is dealing with one’s nations enemies, I cannot imagine Jesus being in favour of offensive war. On the other hand, I do think a biblical case can be made for defensive war. Would Jesus have condemned the actions of Judah Maccabee when he waged war to stop the massacre of Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes? Around 165 years before Jesus’ time a Judean rebel group, led by Judah Maccabee, overthrew this king of the Seleucid Empire. In John, Jesus is depicted attending the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, a celebration commemorating this very victory! Surely then, he was for it! Continue reading
Jesus: Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church
Episode 15 of The Skeptics’ Testament available now on iTunes! This week we take to some more question! What is the Didache? The argument from silence pertaining to Jesus’ historicity and what is one of the most genuine contradictions found in the bible?
Often the Genesis creation narratives (Genesis 1—2:4a and 2:4b—25) receive criticism for what they’re not—scientific accounts of the beginning of the world. Aside from imposing unfair contemporary standards onto authors of antiquity, this criticism is out of place in a plethora of research and literature that treats Genesis as exactly that; a piece of literature from antiquity, and not a scientific account of creation. Dawkins argues that biblical scholars “pick and choose which bits of scripture… to write off as symbols or allegory” and that “Such picking and choosing is a matter of personal decision.” Continue reading