Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gospel truth

THE Age this morning brings us news that Jesus may have been married, a possibility Christians of one variety or another are known to have been tossing about, often with some vehemence, for at least 1,800 years. It is all very fascinating for those interested in such things, which explains the debate’s longevity and its less-scholarly manifestations in works of pulp by the likes DaVinci Code author Dan Brown and, somewhat lower on the literary scale, the sludge of Leslie Cannold, who appears not to realise that the Gospel of Thomas, from which she drew inspiration for her recent memoir in the voice of Jesus’ sister, is not and never has been part of the New Testament. Given that one Thomasine “gospel” depicts the Saviour as a naughty boy in the Just William mould -- bringing clay sparrows to life and sending them on their way, amongst other scamperies – this is hardly surprising.

To each his own, and perhaps the rest of us should be grateful for that. If biblical scholars were not preoccupied with drawing grand conjecture from small bits of papyrus they might make careers in the law or at the ATO, where interpretations of the abstract and arcane cause normal people much expense and grief.

And there is another reason for gratitude on this grey morning in Melbourne: how very fortunate we are that the Age has limited its theological interests to the Christian faith. With Muslim protests against that Youtube video planned for this weekend on the steps of the State Library, it would not have promoted public order if the paper had wondered in public about the Prophet’s sub-teen spouse, his Heaven-bound horse, or assurance that no decent rock or tree will allow a hunted Jew to cower behind it, come the day of reckoning.

No, that would not have done at all. The smart editor needs to pick his subjects, otherwise multiculturalism might get a bad name.

A NOTE: Those interested in Jesus’ purported nuptials will enjoy this, a paper on the latest conjecture by the scholar quoted in the Age.



  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.September 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    'Twas a grey morning Prof, but a fine climate for a little indoor Biblical conjecture. As in all things 4th Century, speculation is the name of this game, one into which my toe doth here and there tentatively (and I hope historically) dip, so I did read the Harvard academics' paper with some interest. Also read about the animal between a donkey and a mule in height that took the Islamic Prophet to Jerusalem faster than a jet plane. All very prophetic, as one might expect for the period. So quite a Dark Ages dawning morning, although no clear conclusions reached or ever likely to be so, except that faith is all it takes for believers of all religions (can't make the leap myself) and that if I had to choose a philosophy emerging from a theology 1 John 4:16 still looks pretty good.

    Now to today's bigger challenge - proving I am not a robot. Two goes so far suggest that I should visit my optometrist - but can he help? Nothing wrong with your eyes, he said last time I complained about the world. Suggested some rose-coloured specs. Might be time now, given the state of the Nation, and if days contineue grey.

  2. Compared to Islam, Christianity is a religious Trabant - all noise, vibration and smoke but no movement. Islam however, offers more action than Formula One.

    In the onislam webpage linked to in your magic horse reference, readers should click on Search and then enter: The Miracle of the Moon Splitting.

    They will then be able to read how Space Travelling Man (STM) split the moon. Further reading on this event will show it was not witnessed by anyone other than a few of STM's followers, as everyone else was in bed and the split lasted a just a few moments.

    As many people refuse to believe this (along with quite a few other things in STM's guide to everything), his followers are inspired to go batshit crazy.

    As Johnny Standley observed many years ago: It's in the Book.

    Google it and then listen for a laugh - it might take your mind off such trivia as how to reach escape velocity on a donkey/mule and travel in space without a pressure suit.

  3. Ouch. I'm with Prof. Bunyip I oscillate between mocking laughter at their cartoonishness and horror at what they're building and simultaneously destroying.

    I'm going to argue liberalism in the name of 'equality' suppresses non-liberal insitutions/groups large enough to be realistic impediments to the liberal state's expansion (Codevilla 'The Ruling Class') while simultaneously supports opposing non-liberal groups small enough to be considered clients. That this is the claiming of religious authority, ruling over and between the truth claims of worldviews put under the concept 'religion' is never mentioned. It is smuggled in under whatever god-terms are useful 'equality' etc.

    The very last thing liberal (therapeutic [Rieff]) elites want is light shone on their own ultimate convictions. Late liberalism is the non-declared established religion, fideistic, oxymoronic in essence and a potent irrationalism much more dangerous than Calvin's Geneva.

    Without the coercive presence of having to confess liberalism Islam would not be imported as the cause of social chaos it is. Liberals don't mind social chaos, afterall they have liberal cures and sinecures that taxpayers can pay for. Virtuous self-ruling social systems need few people giving orders.

    So those that adhere to the western Christian tradition are a direct threat, so diluting and emasculating that group is a goal of immigration policy.


  4. They must have small mules in the desert and big donkeys. Normally the donk is smaller than the mule, unless the horse parent was a pony. But don't let facts get in the way of a story hey Mohamed? And I hope his cousin was suitably chaperoned, I wouldn't trust the randy old goat!

  5. Regarding the Gospel of St Thomas - long before it was available online, it was included among a collection of biblical Apocrypha published by Oxford University Press.
    I was able to borrow the book from my local library. But that was back in the days when libraries held books and weren't easily mistaken for internet cafes.
    At any rate, the Infancy Gospel is about as blasphemous as it gets. Little Baby Jesus has more of Hell in him than Heaven. But I'm pleased to report that I have not been beheaded for reading it. Both the Church of Rome and my own good self continue to prosper in spite of this Christian-mocking satire.
    Other people could perhaps take the hint.

  6. Still awake Prof?

    Creation V Evolution is a real front line of the battle ground for western civilization.

    While people subscribe to scientism, materialistic naturalism Muhammadans are safe with every inch of their sophistry.

    Darwin to materialism to relativism to multiculturalism to Muhammad to Ground Zero in intellectualism; its one seamless transition.

    Prof - this is a thumb-nail micro rant. Jesus is who He said He was, and still is. Death is but a doorway. Genesis to Revelations - its all true. A catharsis might have you camping at for a subdued week.

  7. "1) "Funny how the media makes so much of tiny scraps from the fourth century but never tell anyone about the tiny scraps from the second century that substantiate the canonical, biblical testimony of Jesus, isn't it? Makes you wonder where the true journalists are anymore, doesn't it?"

    2) "There are a small group of anti-Christian academics that the media just adores who do nothing but repeat the wild eyed fanciful theories that a small group of heretics dreamed up a hundred years and more after Jesus. They write books and make money recycling stuff the Christians wrote entire tomes debunking long, long ago. Do you ever hear the media pointing to the multi-volume refutations of these folks penned by men like Irenaeus as early as the end of the second century? Have you ever read those replies? In fact, have you ever read the Gnostic gospels yourself?"

    3) "A fourth century Gnostic said Jesus was married? Shocking news...given that we have known all about such stories for hundreds of years! The stories the Gnostics made up starting in the second century only got wilder and wilder through the fourth century, when they started to die out. Just like our modern anti-Christian media to focus upon stories completely disconnected from the times of Jesus and based upon foundational beliefs directly contrary to those of the Jews of the first century, the people from whom Jesus came and amongst whom He ministered."

    But one last word of irony: Muslims say they do not differentiate between one prophet and another. OK---so why are there no riots in Egypt about this papyri and its allegation that Jesus was married? The Qur'an does not say Jesus was married. The Qur'an says Jesus was virgin born, was a true man, etc. So why not be enraged about all the constant attacks upon Jesus? I have never heard about a single KFC being burned due to some denial of the virgin birth by a Western scholar, have you? But let someone draw a cartoon image of Muhammad, and the world erupts in flames. I am left once again asking, "Where's the consistency?"

    Dr James White

    1. Jesus was married, according to Barbara Theiring. (Jesus the Man, DOUBLEDAY 1992)

      Some thing about keeping a dynasty going. There were two marriages-a trial and a confirmnatory one. And he survived the crucifixion and died at the age of 70, in Rome.

      Bleieve it or not-although Theiring's scholarship appears to be immaculate-over two thirds of the book is dedicated to chronology, locations, references etc.

    2. The scholarship all comes from the same three originating passages outside the Bible, all the rest is speculation supported by chronologies.

      There's plenty of chronologies for Star Trek too, it doesn't support any underlying truth.

  8. mojo, Unrepentant YankSeptember 20, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    "You, Luke! Don't write that down..."

    1. Except Luke wasn't one of the original disciples and was specifically commissioned by Paul to put together a definitive biography that was part of Paul's defense in Rome.

  9. The Nag Hammadi scrolls were written at least two centuries after the time of Jesus, and are the writings of a gnostic quasi-Christian group who were attempting to blend Greek gnosticism with the Hebrew teachings of Messiah ben Yosef. Oil and water, the two don't mix.

    Thomas, btw, doesn't appear to have had any connection with Egypt. His fate wasn't ascertained until the Portugese explorers arrived in southern India in the 1600's. The Jesuits missionaries were surprised to learn that there was an established Christian church already there, which was established by Thomas. It differed markedly of course from the Roman church as the Indians kept the Torah, observed the Sabbaths and feast days, etc. as did the early Nazarenes who called themselves "the Followers of the Way". Needless to say, the Jesuits "corrected" them at the point of a sword.

    Regarding Mo and his magic mule, he actually never went to Jerusalem. The two cities he visited were Mecca and Medina on his fanciful flight. The Moslem connection to Jerusalem was a latter day invention, much like the mythical Palestinian nation.

  10. So, raising the dead and turning water into wine is OK, but animating clay sparrows is not ? Well, if you say so Prof.

    And for those so intent on justifying the NT's accuracy, just remember that the gospels we have today date from middle to late second century and are no more "authentic" than the various gnostic versions. They were however approved even later by the church as being correct, but don't mistake that for any imprimatur of accuracy.

    The oldest christian texts are some of the letters of Paul, and Acts which is partially contemporary but fairly heavily rewritten to conform with later confabulations. And Paul never met Jesus, and from the evidence inside his writings and what is left in Acts, basically re-wrote Jesus' teachings to suit himself.

    We have no good unbiased written records from the time, the closest is Josephus and he certainly slants his own writing to suit the times and his audience. There are only two possible mentions of Jesus in Josephus, and both are reasonably likely (about all one can say) to be later interpolations.

    So, we know very little for certain about the time, and tiny scraps of parchment, if authentic, would represent just another christian sect's writings about events that took place 100-150 years beforehand and heavily mythologized since. They are no more but not a lot less credible than the canonical gospels.

  11. It amazes me that these so called scholars have never heard of the dag Hammadi (I think that is the correct name).

    The papyrus obviously belongs to the group of writings of the Gnostics. It never was a part of the Christian message, although some churches in parts of the Middle East accepted the writings and actually used them for a time.

    The whole thing was thrashed by about the 5th century when the Books of the Bible were determined and the matter was closed. Everything, especially the Gospel of Thomas (which was not written by Thomas the Apostle) and including the various Acts of.... were excluded from the Scripture. These writings are the the real Apocrypha per the Catholic Church.

  12. If Jesus was in the Just William mode he would have shot the sparrows with an air rifle. Or a sling, considering the tech of the day. He might have used clay sparrows as sling shot to annoy the local legionaries ...