Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Daniel (Pt 19): The Four Empires - more Details

We can be very satisfied that there were indeed Four Empires,
and that Daniel was indeed talking about them.

Secular records and non-Biblical historians of all ages will confirm the most basic and important details about each Empire and Era.

Thus it is appropriate to condense our chart and also add the main events
to the timeline on the right-hand side for reference and confirmation:

Again, we will provide a large and a small version for re-posting.

Smaller version:

Gospel of Barnabas: Medieval Muslim Forgery

Here are some exerpts from a booklet examining the question of
the authenticity of the so-called Gospel of Barnabas.

It exists in Italian and Spanish, and has been translated into English, and Arabic.

It has been circulated widely in the Muslim world, particularly in places
like Pakistan and India, where copies are printed.

It is claimed to be "the original gospel", but like so many others,
is a lame forgery, by a Medieval muslim, probably a Spanish Moor.

What Muslims don't know, but should be aware of, is that it not only
contradicts the New Testament and Old Testament, but also the Quran!

Barnabas Preaches against Paul:
The author of this book uses strong language to denounce the teaching of Paul in particular, especially regarding circumcision; the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus; and the Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of God. The whole book abounds in discourses levelled against those things which the author particularly takes Paul to task for, and there can be no doubt that the author of this book is poles apart from Paul and his doctrine and is diametrically opposed to his preaching and teaching.
There is such a contrast between the real Barnabas who through all these events chooses Paul as his companion, and the pseudo-author of the Gospel of Barnabas, who has a positive antagonism to Paul and his teaching, that we cannot help but conclude that the Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery. It was not written by Barnabas but by someone else who made a major tactical blunder in choosing a close companion of Paul as the author of this book.

Barnabas is made into an Apostle:

Here the author of the Gospel of Barnabas makes his first serious blunder for he suggests throughout his book, not only that Barnabas was actually one of the twelve disciples of Jesus during his ministry on earth, but also that he was known by this name “Barnabas” throughout that period of ministry. On more than one occasion in the book we find that Jesus allegedly addressed him by name and the first occasion, which comes particularly early in the book, is this one:
Jesus answered: ‘Be not sore grieved, Barnabas; for those whom God hath chosen before the creation of the world shall not perish’ (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.21).
Now we have here a patent anachronism which destroys the possibility that this book was really written by the Apostle Barnabas. The apostles only gave him the name “Barnabas” (Son of encouragement) after the ascension of Jesus because of the generous act he had done which had heartened the spirits of the early Christians. But the Gospel of Barnabas makes Jesus call him by this name some three years before he ascended to heaven.

Barnabas makes Circumcision Necessary for Salvation:

in the Gospel of Barnabas, we read that one of the “impious doctrines” that Paul was holding to was repudiation of circumcision. That he repudiated it as an essential element of salvation we will readily concede (Galatians 5. 2-6) – but his chief partner in this repudiation is none other than Barnabas! Once again the author has blundered in making Barnabas the author of his deplorable forgery. Indeed, according to the Gospel of Barnabas, Jesus is alleged to have said to his disciples:

‘Leave fear to him that hath not circumcised his foreskin, for he is deprived of paradise’ (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.26).
Thus circumcision is an essential element and a prerequisite of salvation in the Gospel of Barnabas and the author obviously assents to this doctrine. But of the real Barnabas we read that he joined with Paul in furiously debating against the doctrine of the Judaisers that circumcision was necessary for salvation.

Barnabas doesn't know what "Christ" means:
Two points from within the Gospel of Barnabas also show that the author could not be the real Apostle Barnabas.

Firstly, this book makes Jesus constantly deny that he is the Messiah ...and yet the same book calls Jesus himself the “Christ” (p.2). Now any man with a basic knowledge of Greek knows that “Christos” is the Greek translation of Messiah (a Hebrew word) and that “Jesus Christ” is an anglicised form of the Greek “Iesous Christos”, meaning “Jesus the Messiah”. The very real contradiction that exists here in the Gospel of Barnabas is further evidence that the author was not Barnabas himself. He came from Cyprus, an island where Greek was the common tongue, and Greek would have been his home language. The real Barnabas would never have made such a mistake as to call Jesus the Christ and deny that he was the Messiah!

Barnabas doesn't know the Quran endorses John
the Baptist:

Secondly, the author ...has deviously taken the testimony of John to Jesus in the Bible and changed it into a supposed testimony of Jesus to Muhammad. Whether Jesus ever predicted the coming of Muhammad or not is not at issue here. What is obvious, however, to anyone who has read the life of Jesus in the Bible, is that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas has tried to make Jesus a herald of the coming of Muhammad in the very mould of John the Baptist who was a herald of the coming of Jesus, and to achieve this he has put Jesus in the shoes of John and has made him say of Muhammad what John really said of him!
Accordingly the author has had to omit the person and ministry of John from his book altogether. But there is clear and plain endorsement in the Qur’an of the ministry of John the Baptist as a herald of Jesus (Surah 3.39)

Medieval Origin of Gospel of Barnabas:

(a) Barnabas mistakes Jubilee of Pope Boniface (c. 1300 AD) for Jewish Jubilee:

A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you. Lev. 25.11
About 1300 AD Pope Boniface the Eighth gave a decree that the jubilee should be observed once every hundred years. This is the only occasion in all history that the jubilee year was made to be only once every hundred years. After the death of Boniface, however, Pope Clemens the Sixth decreed in 1343 AD that the jubilee year should revert to once every fifty years as it was observed by the Jews after the time of Moses. Now we find in the Gospel of Barnabas that Jesus is alleged to have said:
‘And then through all the world will God be worshipped, and mercy received, insomuch that the year of jubilee, which now cometh every hundred years, shall by the Messiah be reduced to every year in every place.’ (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.104).
The author of the Gospel of Barnabas could only have quoted Jesus as speaking of the year of jubilee as coming “every hundred years” if he knew of the decree of Pope Boniface. This is a clear anachronism.

(b) Quotations from Dante.

Dante was an Italian who, significantly, also lived about the time of Pope Boniface and wrote his famous “Divina Comedia” in the fourteenth century. This was basically a fantasy about hell, purgatory and paradise according to the Roman Catholic beliefs of his times.
Now in the Gospel of Barnabas we read that Jesus allegedly said of the prophets of old:
‘Readily and with gladness they went to their death, so as not to offend against the law of God given by Moses his servant, and go and serve false and lying gods’. (Gospel of Barnabas, p.27).
The expression “false and lying gods” (dei falsi e lugiardi) is found elsewhere in the Gospel of Barnabas as well. On one occasion it is Jesus again who supposedly uses these words (p.99) and on another it is the author himself who describes Herod as serving “false and lying gods” (p.267). Nevertheless this expression is found in neither the Bible nor the Qur’an.What is interesting, however, is that it is a direct quote from Dante! (Inferno 1.72).

Likewise the expression “raging hunger” (rabbiosa fame) is also reminiscent of the first canto of Dante’s Inferno. Both speak of the “circles of hell” and the author of the Gospel of Barnabas also makes Jesus say to Peter:
‘Know ye therefore that hell is one, yet hath seven centres one below another. Hence, even as sin is of seven kinds, for as seven gates of hell hath Satan generated it: so there are seven punishments therein’. (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.171).
This is precisely Dante’s description found in the fifth and sixth cantos of his Inferno. We could go on and quote many more examples

One striking quote must be mentioned, however, because in this case the Gospel of Barnabas agrees with Dante while contradicting the Qur’an. We read in the Qur’an that there are seven heavens:
He it is who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. (Surah 2.29)
On the contrary we read in the Gospel of Barnabas that there are nine heavens and that Paradise like Dante’s Empyrean – is the tenth heaven above all the other nine. The author of the Gospel of Barnabas makes Jesus say:
‘Paradise is so great that no man can measure it. Verily I say unto thee that the heavens are nine … I say to thee that paradise is greater than all the earth and all the heavens together’. (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.223).

(c) The Mediaeval Environment of the Barnabas Gospel:

Again we read in the Gospel of Barnabas that Martha, her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus were the overlords of two towns, Magdala and Bethany (GB, p.242). This proprietorship of villages and towns belongs to the Middle Ages when the system of feudalism was rooted in European society. Certainly no such practice was known at the time of Jesus when the occupying Roman forces controlled most of the land of Palestine.
A similar example of the mediaeval environment of this Gospel is the reference in it to wine casks (p.196), for wine was stored in skins in Palestine (Matthew 9.17) while wooden casks were used in Europe in the Middle Ages.

It does well appear to be a forgery of the Middle Ages written by a Muslim who, probably frustrated at being unable to prove that the true Gospels in the Bible are corrupted, wrote a false Gospel.

Ignorance of Palestinian Geography:
Having arrived at the city of Nazareth the sea-men spread through the city all that Jesus had wrought. (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.23).
In this passage Nazareth is represented as a coastal city, a harbour on the lake of Galilee. After this we read that Jesus “went up to Capernaum” (p.23) from Nazareth, as though Capernaum was in the hillside near the sea of Galilee. But ... Capernaum was the coastal city and Nazareth is believed to be up in the hills, if it indeed existed in the time of Jesus.

Barnabas contradicts Quran about the Jesus as Messiah:

Jesus confessed and said the truth: ‘I am not the Messiah … I am indeed sent to the house of Israel as a prophet of salvation; but after me shall come the Messiah’. (The Gospel of Barnabas, pp.54, 104).
Other passages in the Gospel of Barnabas contain similar denials by Jesus that he was the Messiah. It is clearly one of the express purposes of this book to establish Muhammad as the Messiah and to subject Jesus to him in dignity and authority. Here, however, the author of this book has overreached himself in his zeal for the cause of Islam.

For the Qur’an plainly admits that Jesus is the Messiah on numerous occasions and in doing so it confirms the teaching of Jesus himself that he was indeed the Messiah (John 4.26, Matthew 16.20). One quote from the Qur’an will suffice to prove this:
‘O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter’. - (Surah 3.45)

Barnabas Contradicts the Quran on the Virgin Birth:
The virgin was surrounded by a light exceeding bright and brought forth her son without pain. (The Gospel of Barnabas, p.5).
This is a clear repetition of Roman Catholic beliefs of the Middle Ages. The bright light and the painless birth find parallels in the beliefs about the Virgin Mary in the churches of Europe in Mediaeval times. No such details are found in the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus but the Qur’an directly contradicts the Gospel of Barnabas when it says:
And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm tree. - (Surah 19.23)
The Gospel of Barnabas was obviously written as an ideal “Islamic” Gospel, setting forth a life of Christ in which he is made to be the Isa of the Qur’an rather than the Lord Jesus Christ of the Christian Gospels. But since it so hopelessly contradicts both the Qur’an and the Bible on the fact that Jesus was the Messiah and does this so often and so consistently, it must be rejected as a forgery by Christian and Muslim alike. There is no room here for apologetics or efforts to reconcile this book with the Qur’an or the Bible.

It is a (Medieval) counterfeit.


What Should Muslims Do?

...this book is truly a “bare-faced forgery” as George Sale so succinctly put it but the evidence given [here] should be sufficient to convince any reasonable Muslim that, while he might feel it would be very useful for a Gospel to be discovered wherein Jesus foretells the coming of Muhammad, the Gospel of Barnabas just does not provide him with the honest evidence he needs.

Muslim interest in this book is understandable but, in the name of truth and honesty, the Muslims of the world should admit that it is not a book contemporary with the life of Jesus, which proves that he really was the Isa of the Qur’an, but rather a lamentable forgery which, far from promoting the cause of Islam, must ultimately damage it if foolish men continue to propagate it as a true account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Daniel (Pt 18): The Ten Horns of the Fourth Empire

The Ten Horns of the Fourth and Final Empire are a natural difficulty for any
and every interpretation of Daniel's prophecy in chapter 7 .
... The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.   As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings. ...(Dan. 7:23-24)
However those who claim that the author of Daniel is really an imposter faking prophecy by writing history in disguise around 169 BC are forced to construct
the most non-credible and disunited explanations for this section.

Because they want to compress Daniel into the tiny zone  c. 168-164 BCE,
they must try to identify the Ten Horns/Kings in this last era of the Greek Empire, which is a hopeless task:
'In addition, ...Rowley [arguing for a late date] completely fails to support the Grecian empire interpretation by any consensus among its followers, and his discussion is a hopeless maze of alternating views which he either rejects or accepts often as mere matters of opinion.
While the diversity of interpretation is indeed confusing to any expositor of this portion of Scripture, if the book of Daniel is a sixth-century writing, and therefore genuine Scripture, it follows, even as Rowley indirectly admits, that the Roman view is more consistent than the Greek empire interpretation. This is especially true among those following pre-millennial interpretation.'  
- John F. Walvoord, Daniel

The reasonably literalist interpretation of the chapter allows one to make straightforward connections to well-established history.

For instance, Emperor Constantine, although temporarily re-uniting the Roman Empire, completely transformed it, relocating his headquarters to Byzantium,
and effectively starting a brand-new Empire in the East, while simultaneously abandoning the Western half of the Empire (the Roman half) to barbarian hordes.

These barbarian tribes quickly moved in and took over many areas of
the old Roman West, permanently installing themselves as independent kingdoms.

The resulting lists of Ten Kingdoms (assumed by ten kings) in circa 475 A.D.,
 is quite a sensible interpretation of the 'Ten horns' of Daniel 7, coming at the
end of the 'iron mixed with clay' phase of the Empire:

Other slight variants in the list of Ten Kingdoms are possible, and Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible gives some reasonable alternative lists,
based on one's view of the relative importance of various kingdoms in Europe.

And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise,..... Or ten kingdoms which sprung out of the Roman empire, or into which it was broken and divided upon the dissolution of it, about A.D. 476; which,
according to Mr. Mede (k), were thus divided, A.D. 456,
1. Britons; 2. Saxons; 3. Franks; 4. Burgundians; 5 Visigoths; 6. Suevians and Alanes; 7. Vandals; 8. Almanes; 9. Ostrogoths; 10. Greeks.
The list Bishop Lloyd (l) has given of them is,
1. Hunns, who erected their kingdom in that part of Pannonia and Dacia, which was from them called Hungary, about A.D. 356. 2. Ostrogoths, who settled themselves in the countries that reach from Rhetia to Maesia, even to Thrace, about 377; and afterwards came into Italy under Alaricus, in 410. 3. Visigoths, who settled in the south parts of France, and in Catalonia, about 378. 4. Franks, who seized upon part of Germany and Gaul, A.D. 410. 5. Vandals, who settled in Spain; afterwards set up their kingdom in Africa, A.D. 407; their king Gensericus sacked Rome, 455. 6. Suevians and Alans, who seized the western parts of Spain, A.D. 407; and invaded Italy, 457. 7. Burgundians, who came out of Germany, into that part of Gaul called from them Burgundy, 407. 8. Herules, Rugians, and Thoringians, who settled in Italy under Odoacer, about A.D. 476. 9. Saxons, who made themselves masters of Great Britain about the same time, 476. 10. Longobards, called likewise Gopidae, who settled in Germany, about Magdeburg, A.D. 383; and afterwards succeeded the Heruli and Thuringi in Hungary, about the year 826.
Sir Isaac Newton (m) reckons the ten kingdoms in the following order:
1. the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans in Spain and Africa; 2. of the Suevians in Spain; 3. of the Visigoths; 4. of the Alans in Gallia; 5. of the Burgundians; 6. of the Franks; 7. of the Britons; 8. of the Hunns; 9. of the Lombards; 10. of Ravenna;
Even without 100% agreement on the list, the kingdoms are certainly real enough, and mark the end of the Roman Empire and even the original residents from that time.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Daniel (Pt 17): The Four Empires are not Local Kingdoms

In part, our perceptual difficulty with Daniel arises from the over-literal translations of the text, which don't take the context into consideration sufficiently.

For all the so-called 'scholarship' expended (usually to disprove or critique the book) very little common sense or simple logic is applied, either by translators or interpreters.  This leaves readers wading through ambiguities that shouldn't even exist.

One is the issue of 'kingdoms' vs. 'Empires'.

There is a clear difference between a local 'kingdom' or nation of city-states (such as early Italy or classical Greece) and a world-dominating Empire.

The problem is, until Empires came into existence, and for a long time afterward, there was no specialized language or name for "Empire".

In fact, the word "Empire" as we have come to know it, is a late invention, coming out of the experience of the Roman Empire (c. 29 BC - 310 AD).
An Empire is a multi-nation state spread across the globe, usually run or controlled by an "Emperor" - a word which is understood as an 'Uber-Dictator' as opposed to a local 'king' (which is nearly colorless by comparison).

When Daniel interpreted the dream of the very first 'Emperor', he had to use the language available.  King Nebuchadnezzar was naturally called 'king', because in every language, including Hebrew, Aramaic and Chaldean, there was no word for 'Emperor' yet coined.

The best one could do was say 'great king', or 'king of kings', or 'king of the world', or some such descriptive title that might try to convey the size and scope of the rulership and territory.

So Daniel uses 'king' and 'kingdom' by convention of the time, naturally in the language of his contemporaries.

We however, are not so limited, and are quite able to distinguish between local 'kingdoms' and vast Empires, and in modern English we now have modern words suited for translation and exposition that convey the meaning intended by Daniel.

The strongest argument of course is context, and here we must seriously take this context into account, and give it its due.

The main and obvious context is the fact that Daniel himself is a minister in the very court of the first multi-national Empire in existence, at the center of civilization.    From here, we understand instinctively that when Daniel talks about the 'great kingdoms' he plainly means 'Empires' in modern parlance.

When Daniel envisions and talks of great beasts with multiple horns, he is speaking of successive Empires and their Emperor-dictators, not local kingdoms or short-term events.

The ploy by critics to 'localize' or minimize the vast size and scope of Daniel's prophecy is a desperate attempt to account for the sharp accuracy of Daniel's prediction in naturalistic terms, by claiming it to be a late forgery.   The position of critics is that a priori, accurate detailed prophecy is impossible.

This fails however, because the very LATEST the book of Daniel can be dated is about 167 BC, because it was known to have been widely circulated by this time.

The very first prophecy however, extends to 300 AD.

Most importantly:

Each 'kingdom' (World Empire) is very clearly and plainly identified:

(1)  Each Empire involves the same basic vast area of land.

(2)  Each Empire is successive, replacing its predecessor.

(3)  Each Empire is headed and administrated by a different ethnic nation.

(4)  Each Empire is founded by a Warlord through warfare.

(5)  Each Empire conquers the preceding Empire.

(6)  Each Empire's beginning is clearly defined on a timeline.

(7)  Each Empire's end is clearly defined on a timeline.

(8)  Each Empire has a unique character or trademark.

(9)  Each Empire imposes tribute on other nations through force.

(10)  Each Empire rules over the land and nation of Israel.

(12)  Each Empire at some point oppresses the People of God.

(13)  One Empire (Babylon) is known and two (Persia/Greece) are named.

These distinctive features, most of which are contained in the prophecies of Daniel, leave no room at all for mistaking the size and scope of the prophecy or mistaking the identity of the Empires described.

Lets look closer at these characteristics:
(3) Each Empire is headed and administrated by a different ethnic nation.

(4) Each Empire is founded by a Warlord through warfare.

(5) Each Empire conquers the preceding Empire.

(6) Each Empire's beginning is clearly defined on a timeline.
To be clear, each Empire begins as a small and local ethnic kingdom.

They are not mere internal 'coups', political regime changes,
or even dramatic changes in administration or infrastructure.

Thus, the passing of kingship from father to son, or to co-ruler/general,
do not count as 'new Empires' (as occurred in Babylon and Persia).

Nor do internal administrative reorganizations count, such as
the (re)division of provinces or sattraps (as occurred in Persia).

Not even the failure of an heir, and division into relatively independent regions
count as a 'new Empire'. The Greek Empire remained in the control of
the Greek generals and they continued the plan of Hellenization, even
when Alexander died childless.
Thus Four Horns sprouted but remained on the same beast, 

- the Goat (Greek Empire).

Each small kingdom begins as a local one, made up of a distinct and
independent nation (Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman).
And each of these kingdoms becomes an 'Empire' through
the conquering of foreign powers and essentially occupies
the same 'Empire Territories'.

The transition from local kingdom to world-class Empire is plainly
demarcated by the rise of powerful individual Warlord, who
relatively quickly conquers the previous dynasty and ruling nation/culture.

Even the 4th Roman Empire conquers through a handful of great military generals.

Finally, this 4th Roman Empire is NOT reconquered by a foreign power,
but remarkably, seems to implode from internal fighting and disharmony,
just as the prophecy of Daniel predicts (the feet of iron and clay).

The New Kingdom of God is according to the prophecy a physical earthly one,
but 'made without hands'. (Dan. 2:34,45)

"I will destroy this temple (Herod's) made with hands,
and in three days build a temple 'made without hands' !"

(Mk 14:58)

It is clear in the original quotation of Jesus (in Mark)
that He interprets Daniel to be referring to
Jesus' own spiritual kingdom 'not of this world' (Jn. 18:36, Jn. 17:16)

Jesus self-describes His kingdom in a parable as
'a mustard seed' expanding to fill the world.

We get the sense of this in the subsequent history of Jesus' underground church
and 'body/temple' expanding to ultimately 'destroy' the Roman Empire
by 'disloyalty' to Rome and loyalty to Jesus.

In the end, Constantine found it expedient and necessary to:

(1) End persecution of Christians
(2) Legalize Christianity

(3) Assist Christianity with the commandeering of pagan temples and wealth,
(4) Become a Christian,
(5) Hold Councils intended to unite Christians under a central authority.

He did this not least because Christianity had spread so deeply and become
so popular that one could not command a Roman Army without
acknowledging and protecting Christians.

This final "Empire" was indeed such a revolutionary difference in kind,
that it ceased to mean 'Empire' in the normal oppressive sense.
It retained its army and policing power, its ability to defend itself,
and its use of military force, but nonetheless transformed, if briefly
into an unprecedented and entirely new 'thing'.

Initially all religions were granted 'rights' of practice and worship.

Christians were for the first time given powers as councillors in the court
of the Emperor.

The change was so radical that Constantine chose to abandon Italy
entirely and choose Greece as his new Capital and central base for
his new 'Empire'.

In doing this, he let the Western half fall into the Dark Ages,
fullfilling a great and terrible fate upon the old 'Roman Empire'.

This new partially Christianized 'Empire' must be recognized as the
obvious and clear fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy concerning
the 'made without hands', and having a Spiritual element unknown
to previous earthly empires.

We do not here equate Constantine's Empire with Christ's,
but do acknowledge the obvious and deeply rooted connection,
due to the rapid and successful evangelization of the old Roman world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Beatles and Epstein Began the Homo Culture Hijack

Many people don't know about it,
because back in the 60s, Europe was a different world
than the real West (i.e., Canada, USA).

In those days, the main exposure to vulnerable youth
was not through Television, which was live, and also an expensive luxury.

It was through the record industry and radio.

Many bands 'made it' through air-play on radio stations,
and the competition was done by record companies
pumping out and distributing "45s" (small single song records played at 45 rpm).

(I'm explaining this because most young people today don't really know
these details. Older folks can be impatient just a bit longer.)

The early bands in their early years (like Elvis, the Beatles, and Rolling Stones),
got exposure mostly through radio and records.

Why is this important?
Because even back in the early career of the Beatles,
songs were sometimes loaded with double-meanings.

This was no 'conspiracy' but more of a 'covert operation',
something like what Shakespeare himself used to do:

Shakespeare would write a play and perform it,
so that one part of the audience, the common masses,
serfs, merchants, blacksmiths (blue-collar workers)
would hear jokes and maxims that they would recognize and appreciate,
while the rich lords, and members of the king's court (upper class)
who sat high up in the balcony seats would hear and appreciate
the more sophisticated jokes and ironies (i.e., the secret mocking of the
uneducated farmers etc.).

So what you had was actually two simultaneous plays for two audiences.

The Beatles did something similar,

by using the audio alone as a medium to reach their massive common fan base,
while putting out VIDEOS which contained a different message,
and would completely alter the meaning of a song.

In those days, (with typically only one or two government-run TV channels),
the video portion of their message formed a separate media which
reached a completely different and more sophisticated older audience,
(namely middle-class and upper-class who could afford TV).

A perfect example of this Dual-Message targeted to different audiences
is the following song:

"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"

The audio song has all the appearance of a simple but poignant and
well-written love-song, with no hint however of a homosexual sub-text.

One might well be accused of being a conspiracy-nut for suggesting
it is really all about homosexuality, and transvestitism,

if not for the video which was released alongside it.

The video is as old as the song, and features the Beatles' homosexual manager,
Brian Epstein, actually dressed up as a woman.
He is so well dolled-up, you might actually mistake him for a woman,
if you did not know him in person (something only virtual insiders would).

Original Video for Hide Your Love Away


The extended exchanges of glances and meaningful stares between
all the band members and Brian Epstein speak volumes about the question.

Of course, homosexual behaviour was still a scandal in the 60s,
even though apparently rampant in private schools and in English society.

The recent revelations about massive pedophile rings operated by
the upper class to sexually abuse and traffic children, especially boys,
are quite enlightening in this context.

The Beatles were at the start simply a bar-band, with little conception of
a future beyond seedy bars in Germany (where they played for 10 years,
with little fame or financial success).

What propelled them to the 'top' was BACKING.

And that backing came from both the homosexual elite of Britain,
and even the Royal Family.
Brian Epstein was not a 'lone gunman' but represented by proxy
a whole cult and secret mafia of pedophiles and perverts.

Once the agenda was agreed upon, the backing (and fame) was secured.

Every edge was given them, including international gigs,
and access to the British philharmonic orchestra and professional
engineers and composers who helped to arrange and even ghost-write
and train these four fop-heads for their new role as
LGBT programmers for the brainwashing of the whole post-war baby-boom generation.

The whole point of the Beatles was to push an agenda,

one which has turned out to be surprisingly old and stale.

The truth of Lennon's homosexual experiments with Epstein and the other Beatles,
is actually moot and almost irrelevant, except to explain how they could
go along with the plan.

The Four Mop Tops, it must be remembered were the very first band
(among many quick copycats) to sport the new girlish long-hair style,
which in hindsight hardly looks like more than maybe a delay of haircut!

But its still a significant ice-breaker, as these BEFORE AND AFTER photos show:

"The MercyCats" pre-fame and pre-stardom haircuts.

The Gay MopTops: -
sponsored by royalty, managed by the LBGT community.

The 'public persona' of the band,
that of being 'eligible bachelors' available to the mob of young girls at large,
was largely a complete piece of fakery.
Most of them got married young, which was kept secret.

The thing to remember is not that these were hardcore homos themselves,
but wild and careless experimenters who had no moral or ethical grounding,
and were themselves easily manipulated by jaded wealthy homo elite.

They took the money and the fame, a contract signed by satan himself,
the father of all homos.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Armageddon: - what and where?

John Ramsden's discussion of Armageddon (BibleMagazine)
is a good start for Christians and Jews to look at, when trying to nail down the meaning of this unique word (found in Rev. 16:14,16):
'For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.' (Revelation 16:14, 16).
"Some say that it was originally spelt "Har-Megiddo" and therefore means a Hill at the end of the Megiddo valley.

The problem with that is that we never read in the Bible of a battle on any such hill. On the contrary the Biblical battles fought at Megiddo were on a plain -- such as when Josiah was killed by Pharoah Necho (see 2 Chron 35:22).
Meanwhile, another expert assures us that even though in the 1881 Revised Version of the Bible the word Har-Mageddon appears (and it is the only major version of the Bible to carry this description), the earliest known interpretation extant is in Arabic and means "a level trodden place".

Nevertheless, the general consensus among popular writers and preachers is that Armageddon refers to a place in Northern Israel where a future battle is to be fought out. " (ibid.)
Interestingly, a violent battle recently WAS fought on the plateau east of
this supposed valley, on the Golan Heights, which modern Israel nearly lost,
if not for perhaps some tactical and strategic bungling by Egypt and Syria, and hesitating support from the USA.



The result of that conflict was a new border,
which now acts as a buffer to protect Israel from invasion:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dome of the Rock & Underground Chambers (Pt 1): Overview

Many Westerners are dimly aware that currently the site of the Jerusalem Temple is occupied on top by a Muslim mosque, called the Dome of the Rock,
for its gold dome.

A closer look gives more sense of the size of this eye-sore bearing the symbol of the Satanic Moon-god on top.

A closer look gives more sense of the size of this eye-sore bearing
the symbol of the Satanic Moon-god on top.

The mouseque has an inscription that runs around it,
which for Christians is an open proclamation of Blasphemy:

The Inscription

The Dome of the Rock also contains an inscription, 240 meters long, that includes some of the earliest surviving examples of verses from the Qur‘an – in an architectural context or otherwise. The bismillah (in the name of God, the merciful and compassionate), the phrase that starts each verse of the Qu’ran, and the shahada, the Islamic confession of faith, which states that there is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet, are also included in the inscription. The inscription also refers to Mary and Christ and proclaim that Christ was not divine but a prophet. Thus the inscription also proclaims some of the core values of the newly formed religion of Islam.

The construction of this puss-ball is shown in the diagram below:

The cut-away side view below shows the location and size of the first chamber which is directly below the apparent location of the original altar-stone.

A couple of photos of the interior of the giant outhouse that the Arabs built overtop show the rough state of affairs and give a sense of what the original altar stone looks like from inside:

Meanwhile, the Arabs have been privately and without authorization carrying on construction and digging inside the temple site, and have damaged archaeological artifacts and weakened the foundations of both the Mount and their own mosque:

The Decade that Scholars became LIARS

One of the most common phrases in apologetic works is the magical and spell-binding "Simon says" gimmick,

"Most scholars agree..." 

Its invoked whenever the author wants to intimidate the naive and uncertain reader into accepting some claim or disproof as "fact", when its actually a simple exaggeration or inaccuracy meant to bolster some ideological position.

Common variants on this theme are,

"Most/all scholars/experts/scientists agree/hold/maintain ..."  

Its become common fare in all product advertising in certain variants:

"Most doctors agree..." 
"4 out of 5 dentists recommend..." 
"Nutritionists have proven that..." 

As the 'science' of selling, advertising and programming people advanced,
such techniques became rampant.

What is saddening however is that the same selling techniques spilled over into the scientific and academic world, as competition for funding heated up and ideological agendas became more sophisticated.

The more extreme and overt (and less convincing) versions of this phrase did not expand, however, the 'softer' (more plausible) versions of this phrase continued to rise in frequency among so-called 'scientific' and 'scholarly' papers throughout the last 60 years.

This trend can be traced to the remarkable popular book from the 50s,
How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff (1954, Norton & C),
which has not only gone through some 50 printings, but quickly became
a University Textbook and runaway bestseller.   According to Wikipedia, 
' It has become one of the best-selling statistics books in history, with over one and a half million copies sold in the English-language edition.  It has also been widely translated.'
 The following chart, from the Google Ngram Viewer, shows the alarming and ridiculous rate at which our phrase has increased its appearance in both popular and scholarly literature:

The slower rise in usage of less popular sayings acts as a double-check
for what the expected increase in usage of the popular sayings should have been.

Sadly, what Darrell Huff intended as a warning and a vaccination against fraud and misrepresentation of data, became a handbook for millions of liars and con men throughout the 20th century and beyond. 

Apologists, Ideologues and salesmen found it was far easier to con people than help instruct them on how to protect themselves from fraudulent claims.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Ten Commandments (Pt 2): Their Context

The next thing to consider about the Ten Commandments is the context in which they materialized.

God did not just hand out flyers, or repeat earlier prophetic messages,
or paint them in the sky in every language.

Nor were they doled out separately, as if each could and would stand alone.
The Ten Commandments were given as a package, and enveloped in a Covenant.
They were given in the form received by Moses as the basis of a national charter,
a city-state, a set of core-values meant to serve first as a way to implement
an orderly and moral society, and secondly as an example, a role-model,
a means of instruction and transmission to the rest of humankind.

When taken in their proper historical context, they can be seen as a basis, and set of core-values.

But as such, they were from the beginning (for Israel and Moses) given with
the recognized understanding that they would require explanation, exposition,
interpretation, expansion, enforcement, and dispersion of benefits and liabilities.

From the beginning then, they formed the basis of an agreement between God and Israel, that is, a Covenant between God and specific tribal confederation, people, and nation.

From the beginning also, they required a system of government (a theocracy),
in which the implications and implementation of the Ten Commandments
would require an infrastructure of support for their practice.

The point here is that the Ten Commandments, although valuable as a Statement of Terms, or a Catechism, or Prospectus, would be incomplete without a supporting infrastructure.

The Ten Commandments needed an infrastructure and were intended to be used
in the context of an ongoing and consistent application throughout a whole society and community.

The danger of taking the Ten Commandments alone, or merely applying them individually, without the support of a community, is well described by various prophets in later times, when conditions had deteriorated to a point where acknowledgement and obediance to the Ten Commandments was no longer the norm.
The skeptical Preacher in Ecclesiastes observes the problem,
and ironically suggests one should not be TOO righteous,
in an environment where righteousness has become too lax:
'I have seen both of these:the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.
Ecclesiastes 7:15-17

When an authentic Theocratic government was no longer being sustained at all,
when the content of the Ten Commandments were no longer being practised
throughout the society and community of Israel, horrible injustices were multiplied, even against innocent third parties who depended upon both the infrastructure and the implementation of these core values:
  'Thus justice is repelled,
righteousness stands apart, at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public court,
and uprightness cannot enter.
Honesty is lacking,
he who leaves evil becomes a target.

Adonai [The Lord] saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.'

Isaiah 59:14-15 - (Complete Jewish Bible - CJB)

'And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off:
for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Yea, truth faileth;
and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey:
and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.'

Isaiah 59:14-15 (KJV)

So we can see that for real and practical justice to prevail,
a whole society and community must commit to (the same) core set of values,
for people to actually benefit.

The Ten Commandments were never meant to stand independent of
or outside of a society and community which is committed to keeping them
and implementing them fairly through a supporting infrastructure.

Standing alone they DO instruct us about moral values,
but without consent, commitment, and integration into the community,
they cannot deliver the blessings God intended.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Ten Commandments (Pt 1): Borrowed from Egypt? No.

The "Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance" Website attempts to make a case that the Ten Commandments were plagiarized from the Egyptian Book of the Dead:
'According to Wikipedia:
"Some historians....have argued that the Ten Commandments originated from ancient Egyptian religion, and postulate that the Biblical Jews borrowed the concept after their Exodus [c. 1491 BC] from Egypt . Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead [c. 1800 BC] ... includes a list of things to which a man must swear in order to enter the afterlife. These sworn statements bear a remarkable resemblance to the Ten Commandments..."
 Many religious liberals, historians, and secularists have concluded that the Hebrew Scripture's Ten Commandments were based on this earlier document...'

 The "many historians"  however, are not named; (as is usual with exaggerated claims), nor are their credentials offered.

The fraudulent presentation however has much deeper flaws and dishonest aspects.

For instance, they only quote a portion of the Book of the Dead (BoD) namely 13 crimes, rather than the whole passage, to give the impression of a nearly equal number of crimes/sins (their secondary source lists only 11 crimes, so they must be fully aware of the fudging).

The actual passage  however, lists over TWENTY-NINE specific crimes, after five general statements of innocence, so there is no numerical similarity with the Hebrew Decalogue of TEN unique commands intended to summarize a whole moral code.

The 29 'crimes' are a long and random (but not exhaustive) list of common offences, with no hierarchy or indication of relative importance.  They are merely an expression of a wordy prayer and claim of general innocence.

In no way can they be interpreted as a "Law Code", nor is there any evidence that the list is based on any earlier formal Egyptian Legal Code now lost.   Rather, this is just an ordinary funeral text, a prayerful plea meant to impress God(s) with its attempt at thoroughness of claim.

This discrepancy in the count makes it more obvious how dissimilar the two lists are.

Even the supposed "matches" are often at best only approximately similar in meaning:

(TC 6) Do not kill -  
(BoD 7) - I have not killed

(TC 7) Do not commit Adultery - 
(BoD 13,14) - I have not Sodomized with a Sodomite.
(the interpretation here of "adultery" is dubious, since the text says literally:
"I have not penetrated the penetrator of a penetrator",
suggesting buggery.)
 (BoD 14) - "I have not masturbated"  Adultery?  another implausible stretch.

(TC 8) Do not steal - 
(BoD 1)        - I have not cheated the Orphan of his goods. 
(BoD 20)      - I have not taken milk from babies' mouths. 
(BoD 11,12) - I have not taken the offerings of the Gods/dead.
(BoD 15-19) - I have not cheated with various weights and measures. 

Certainly these are examples of modern "stealing", but there appears to be
no specialized word for "steal" in early Egyptian,  and these were handled as separate crimes, as the text plainly illustrates.

Even the truncated source that the Ont. Consultants on Religious Tolerance (OCORT) use doesn't render any part of the BoD text as "stealing".

Other 'renderings' offered appear to contain 'glosses' or interpretations that reflect the modern liberal ideologies of the website rather than ancient Egyptian priests:

" I have not murdered or given such an order...." (unsourced quote)
"I have not killed; I have not turned anyone over to a killer." (unsourced)  

Both of these quotes appear to be 'interpretations' or elaborations offered by various unnamed translators.   The Egyptian text seems not to support it, if the UCL and JISC supported sites are reliable.  They give this for the portion of the text under consideration:

"I have not killed; I have not harmed the offering-cattle;" (Chapter 125a)

Which seems to have quite a different meaning than that offered by OCORT.

Out of 29 possible crimes in BoD, only ONE appears to correspond directly to a commandment in the Decalogue:  "murder".

But the context in both cases gives no indication that the two cultures had similar views on how to define "murder" or what the punishment should be in various nuanced cases.   We know that "Do not Kill" was a crime moderated by manslaughter and 'crime of passion' considerations, from the fact that Israelites allowed fugitives to flee to another city of refuge.  Nothing in Egyptian culture seems to correspond to these legal nuances.

OCORT do admit the following:
"One major difference between the two documents is that statues of the Gods and Goddesses formed a major part of the ancient Egyptian religion. The religion of the ancient Hebrews forbade any image or statue of Yahweh. Another difference was the Decalogue's emphasis on the Sabbath -- one day of rest each week. It is not found in the Book of the Dead or in ancient Egyptian culture."

This is not a small difference.  Hebrew Law forbade idolatry, while Egyptian culture celebrated it.   The Sabbath was completely foreign to Egyptians.
Thats  at least two, possibly three Commandments which are are directly opposed to Egyptian legal ideas.  Statistically twice the clear disagreement (20%) as seemingly direct agreement (10%).

And this is being generous in the use of statistics.
From the BoD viewpoint, only 1 match out of 29 crimes is a much lower agreement: (3.4%).  That is, while TC agrees with the BoD list for 10% of its own commandments, the BoD only agrees with TC for 3.4% of its crime list.

The other differences are just as serious.  The Egyptians appeared to have no 'core set' of values like the Hebrew Decalogue.   Instead, they had a complex and often arbitrary set of laws, enacted by Pharoahs and seemingly based on Egyptian religious values and social sensibilities, but unorganized or reasoned out by any unified worldview or legal philosophy.

But from early times, it appears that Hebrew culture embraced at least a legal awareness or core-value system, based on their careful preservation of early history in Genesis.

While Egyptians held core religious beliefs based on early history or myth (i.e., the afterlife and Osiris), they appear not to have based a legal code on their stories.

There seems no evidence that Hebrews borrowed their legal code from Egypt, although they may have been culturally influenced to a significant degree by their interaction, and service to the Egyptian state.

The similarities (e.g., prohibition of murder) can best be understood as universals that arose from situations common to all early peoples and hardly traceable to a specific culture or nation.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Top Geneticist Rejects the "Junk DNA" viewpoint

Oh look! I have in my hand the most up-to-date book available,
on Mobile DNA. Its by the world's leading expert on that topic.

Oh oh, he's not an ID guy. He's not a creationist.
OMG he's not even a Christian or Jew, or muslim.

The title is hilariously "Mobile DNA", by H.H. Kazazian, (2012, FT Press).

We'd better check his credentials:
We wouldn't want any 'unscientific' amateurs sneaking in,
misrepresenting themselves and taking credit for BAs in philosophy,
or PhDs in religion here:

Hmmm. lets see:

finished his M.D. degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Interned in Pediatrics at University of Minnesota Hospital.

Returned to Johns Hopkins for a Fellowship in Genetics,

Then Trained in molecular biology at the NIH.

Rejoined the Faculty at Johns Hopkins.

Rose to full professorship there in 1977.

Became Director of the Center for Medical Genetics (Johns Hopkins) 1988.

Spent 25 years on the John Hopkins Faculty.

Recruited to University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, as
Chair of the Dept. of Genetics in 1994.

Remained as Seymour Grey Professor of Molecular Medicine in Genetics till 2010.

Returned to Johns Hopkins in July 2010.

Heavily involved in molecular genetic research for the past 20 years
specializing in mammalian and human transposable elements, "jumping genes".

Personally characterized much of the variation in the cluster of genes
involved in production of the beta chain of human hemoglobin.

His work led to the nearly complete characterization of the mutations
causing the Beta-thalassemias, common anemias in malaria regions.

Received many honours for his research, most notably the
2008 William Allan Award, the top honour of the
American Society of Human Genetics.

Well, what does he say about Junk DNA?

"...most genes are broken up by sections of DNA called introns
that need to be removed at the RNA stage in order for the genes
to function. ...the protein-coding regions of the genes make up
a very small fraction of mammalian genomes.
...In the late 1970s, introns were found...
Soon we knew that introns were much larger than protein-coding regions,
then called exons.
The DNA between the genes was thought to be functionless,
and was called "junk DNA" (Orgel and Crick, 1980).
However, now we know that introns make up about 30% of human
and mammalian genomes, and exons only encode between 1 and 2%
of the human genome (Lander et al., 2001).
What a comedown for the protein-encoding regions!
Thus over 98% of human DNA had been dismissed as "junk".

Transposable elements were then found, and this active mobile DNA
along with the remnants is now known to account for at least 50%
of human genomic DNA. Both the relatively few presently mobile
sequences, and the many remnants of old events are now
demonstrating function.

...evident in the many ways mobile DNA can modify the genome over evolutionary time.
It can also be co-opted for useful purposes...
Moreover, DNA encoding small RNAs of different types and functions
has been discovered amidst the "junk". Enhancer sequences at great
distances from the genes upon which they act are being found continually.
The bottom line is that "junk" DNA is gradually being eroded away as
function is found for a greater and greater fraction of the genomic DNA

- Mobile DNA, pp. 1-3

His comfortable use of "evolutionary" makes clear he is an evolutionist,
as well as one of the top experts in human DNA.

The Synoptic Problem (Pt 3): Various Issues - Mark's Audience, Sermon on Mount

(1)  A careful examination Shows Mark's Audience.

 Mark is packed with explanatory glosses,
and unless we embrace the idea of a lost "proto-Mark" written to Hebrews,
Mark as presented in the current Greek version was written to a mixed audience
which required special instruction in regard to Aramaic words and Jewish traditions.

To give some examples:

Mark 3:17 "Boanerges, which is 'The sons of Thunder'. Presumably a Jew or Galilean would not need this explained.
Mark 5:41 "Talitha cumi", which is, being interpreted, "Maiden, I say to you arise." For Greek-speaking Jews of diaspora and Gentiles.
Mark 7:34 "Ephphatha", that is, "Be opened!" Again, Jesus' own contemporaries, Galileans, would not need translation.
Mark 7:26 "The woman was a Greek[speaker], Syrophoenician by birth.' of greatest interest to Gentiles, not Jews.
Mark 13:14 '(let the reader understand)', a gloss speaking to Greek readers in the Diaspora, to look up Daniel.
Mark 14:32 'which was named Gethsemane', an anecdote of no importance, but typical of eyewitness accounts.
Mark 15:22 "Golgotha, which is, being interpreted the place of a skull' - a note again, not for the benefit of Hebrews.
Mark 15:34 'which is interpreted, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" - not something Jews regularly reading the psalms would need explaining.

The large number of such notes show that at least the Greek Mark as we have it was meant for an audience much wider than the Jews or Hebrews of the diaspora.

 (2)  Matthew's Sermon on the Mount.

The idea that Jesus spoke on two separate occasions, to account for the differences between the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke), has been proposed many times.

The problem with this 'technique', is that to be consistent, we would have to do the same also, in every instance where two gospels parallel one another, and yet contain serious differences in the accounts.
If carried through consistently, we would end up with 3 or 4 duplicated cases for each miracle or incident in Jesus' life, all varying slightly. But more problematic is that there would be no reliable way to put these "shadow" events or 'mirror-pericopes' into any kind of sensible chronological order.
It goes without saying that we can't use this technique in the Passion narratives.
Jesus wasn't tried and crucified twice, in spite of differences between the accounts.

The correct solution is not to pose "two speeches", but suppose two gospel-writers, one or both having edited or colored his account.

D. A. Carson has recently commented on this problem, specifically discussing the
alleged difference of location ('plain' versus 'mount').  In translation, this appears to be a contradiction, but when the underlying words are properly understood, there is no problem:
"The second example is from my popular-level exposition on the Sermon on the Mount. I there explained the well-known discrepancy between Matthew's reference to a mountain (Matt. 5:1) and Luke's mention of a plain (Luke 6:17) with more or less standard conservative apologetic: even a mountain has level places, and so forth. (35) Since publishing that book, however, I have written a full-length technical commentary on Matthew; and I have learned that (εις το ορος) in Matthew 5:1 probably does not mean Jesus went "up a mountain" or "to a mountain" or "onto a mountainside", but simply "into the hill country"; and interestingly (πεδινος) in Luke 6:17, usually rendered "plain", commonly refers to a plateau in mountainouse regions (36). There is no discrepancy; I had simply not done enough work for the earlier book. If it is any encouragement, increasing years make one increasingly careful. They are also teaching me, slowly, to change my mind and acknowledge when I am shown to be in error. There is no virtue in a Maginot Line of emotional defense around a position that is palpably weak." - D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, (Baker, 1984) p. 42-43
35. D.A. Carson, The Sermon on the Mount (Baker 1978), p.145
36. D.A. Carson, Matthew Exposit. Bible Comm. (Zond., 1984)

The Synoptic Problem (Pt 2): Mark as Primary Makes the Best Sense

Here's how I see the logical development:

(1) The Four gospels are not 'independent' in the sense of four strangers eyewitnessing a car accident. This was an old apologetic paradigm, based on the idea of a 'court trial' to establish the facts. But the facts actually show that the four witnesses have previously consulted one another, and colluded with one another. Two things prevent us from calling them 'independent' in the court-case sense.
(a) They are all on the same side, i.e., Christian witnesses, and are obviously promoting their general position. They are not acting as neutral observers in a detached scientific sense, but are actively and enthusiastically promoting Christianity. Their 'eyewitness' testimony is indeed filtered through a special lens not in possession of a mere scientist. This does not negate their honesty or accuracy, but it does change their purposes and interests.

(b) They have plainly plagiarised each other. The Gospels are literary works, and in places have copied one another (or previous documents) word for word. This was previously 'explained' away by the 'dictation' of the Holy Spirit, but the paradigm cannot contain the phenomena.
i.) If the Holy Spirit was the direct cause of identical wording in some places, why would there be such drastic differences in others? It makes no sense as an explanation for the parallel passages, because it doesn't explain the whole picture. This is not a denial of 'inspiration', just a recognition that it is not an explanation for the partial, piece-meal agreements.

ii) At least one author, Luke admits using the work of previous gospel writers. This is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the parallel passages for all cases between gospels. Even if Matthew or Mark don't make the same confession, it can be reasonably assumed, since all the gospels are the same kind of literature.
(2) It makes a huge difference who wrote first. This becomes obvious from the actual differences between the four gospels. In terms of intent and purpose, and even historical value, it is very important to get it right.
(a) If we suppose Matthew wrote first, as the Roman Catholics claim, we completely undermine the authority of both Mark and Luke.
(i) If Luke is a 'correction' of Matthew, then the whole 'social gospel' was actually missed or ignored by Matthew, making him a complete jerk and wholly unreliable as an eyewitness, or else Luke has invented this whole aspect, including major parables of Jesus, making either Matthew's or Luke's version historically worthless.

(ii) If Mark were a later 'abbreviation'/synopsis of Matthew: Why would he delete virtually all of Jesus' teaching? He would have to be actively hostile to it, or else wanting to keep it secret. What function could his synopsis serve? Virtually everything in Mark is found also in Matthew (and most in Luke). Mark adds nothing of real significance, and has nothing unique to report. He would be totally 'uninspired' in this very practical sense. His work would be redundant and inferior, especially given its plagiaristic content. Mark, if written last, must be demoted to redundant and unoriginal, a mere editor, unworthy of the honorary title 'gospel writer'.
(b) Suppose Luke wrote first: This cannot save the indictment against Mark. It remains an inferior, pointless production.

(c) Suppose Mark wrote first: This redeems Mark as the first pioneer in a series of expanding and more detailed treatments of the Gospel story.
(i) Now Mark's purpose and intent are honorable. He is writing the newspaper account. He is counting on others who have kept records of the many sermons and other details to eventually provide the full story. He however, has to get the story out. The brevity of Mark's version is reasonably accounted for by his urgency and priority as the earliest gospel.

(ii) Many phenomena are now explained. The fact that Matthew uses virtually all of Mark is understandable. He wishes to preserve everything of importance, and likewise Luke. Matthew and Luke show the real value of Mark by copying him so extensively, and honoring his work, using it as a base for their more ambitious projects. It also explains why Mark was continued to be revered by the early church, in spite of its redundancy. Many of the arbitrary and unimportant details in Mark are edited out of Luke and Matthew however, giving more concise versions of events. This is precisely what we would expect of Luke and Matthew as they incorporate Mark into their 'super-gospels'.

It can now be seen that Christians have a large vested interest in getting the order of composition of the Gospels right. The authority and credibility of all the gospels depend on it.

From the Christian point of view, the only question remaining is the relative priority of Luke and Matthew: was Matthew 2nd or 3rd?


I agree that Matthew had other purposes in mind besides dumping the Social Gospel, and going easy on the Jews in Herod's kingdom.

But putting Mark's gospel first chronologically does a lot more than save the reputation of Mark.

Mark as Later Gos

Again we point out that if Mark had been written after either Luke or Matthew, he would have been possibly a clever publisher, or even a nice guy, providing a 'Readers Digest' version of the Gospel. But he would have added absolutely nothing to the story Luke/Matthew, except unimportant incidental details of some pericopes. This would be doubly condemning.
(1) Could the Holy Spirit really have "inspired" Mark to delete almost all of Christ's teaching?
(2) Could the Holy Spirit have "inspired" Mark to add worthless details to those stories he chose to preserve?
The answer is no. If we follow Roman Catholic tradition on this, Mark is dead in the water, and the whole concept of a New Testament Canon of four inspired gospels is sunk.

Mark as Earlier Gos

Thankfully, the evidence itself clearly suggests Mark was written first.

(1) Almost everything in Mark is reproduced in Luke and Matthew, and there is almost nothing unique to Mark. This only makes sense if Mark was used by both Matthew and Luke, and not the other way round. If Mark's purpose had been merely to delete Jesus' teaching, he would be an anti-Christ.

(2) Even though Matthew and Luke have drastically different chronologies between each other, they both reproduce Mark's material in Mark's order! This would be nearly impossible to achieve, unless Mark had either written first, or last. But if Mark had written last, what purpose at all would be accomplished by only copying items out of Matthew and Luke that happened to be in the same order? It would give the appearance of 'agreement', but nothing else of value. This would make Mark a very clever forger, another damning charge against Mark. And he could not have achieved this unless he wrote last, or had the cooperation of either Matthew or Luke (another impossible situation). But the obvious explanation is simply that both Luke and Matthew used Mark as a base, and added their own material in different ways, resulting in a chronological disagreement between them.

(3) Mark includes many explanatory asides, to explain Hebrew/Aramaic terms to a wider audience of Gentiles as well as diaspora Greek-speaking Jews. Most of these have been dropped by Luke and Matthew, as unnecessary. This suggests that Luke and Matthew were written at a later time when there were more people around to explain those terms, and more knowledge among Gentile Christians about Jewish jargon. Adding these to give an artificial appearance of greater age would also be dishonest and suggest Mark was a forgery rather than a real gospel.

(4) Mark is wordier, often adding incidental details typical of an eyewitness account, but of little use or value in the long run. Had Mark written just to add these worthless anecdotes to the gospel, he would be idle, frivolous, and again a forger. But had he written first, it is fully expected that editors like Luke and Matthew would trim the fat from these authentic eyewitness accounts. Again Mark must either have been written first or dismissed as a forgery.

(5) Luke openly says he used previous gospels, and Mark is clearly one of them. Luke uses Mark as an outline, and very simply injects three blocks of new material into Mark. This is clinching. Mark was written before Luke. Luke adds
Block #1: the Nativity Stories
Block #2: the Sermon on the Plain
Block #3: the large collection of additional teachings.
Luke also heavily edits the final section of Mark's Gospel, the Passion Narrative. All in all, these are the features we would expect from a later writer incorporating an earlier account into an expanded and more complete version of the story. Further substantiating evidence is found in the way Matthew has also inserted his unique material in blocks, the only efficient method of doing so.

Luke's Block Outline

Luke block 1
: Luke 1 - 2 (Nativity etc.)
Mark block 1: Luke 3:1 - 6:19 = Mark ch 1 - 3 (with suppliments)
Luke block 2
: Luke 6:20 - 8:3 (Sermon on Plain etc.)
Mark block 2: Luke 8:4 - 9:62 = Mark ch 4 - 9 (but Luke skips 6:45 - 8:25)
Luke block 3: Luke 10:1 - 18:14 (including Johannine material: e.g., Luke 10:21-22 etc.)
Mark block 3: Luke 18:15 - End = Mark ch 10 - 16 (with minor edits, suppliments)